Transformation of smallholder farming : an important part of the solution to providing food security (Practical Action)

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NOW is the time for Smallholder farmers

I am really pleased to see the UK Government and G8 focus on food and agriculture and to be invited by DFID to consult on the initiative. This focus is needed to strengthen the resilience and productivity of all farmers to meet the food and nutrition needs of themselves and the growing population.

I am anxious about what the DFID event (Promoting African Agriculture – The New Alliance for Security and Nutrition) will bring.

  • Will it motivate investment in sustainable agriculture at all levels – smallholder farmers to large-scale agri-business?
  • Will it enable smallholders to invest and grow their agricultural livelihoods, or will it just benefit the multinationals and big business?

Smallholders are key to success
You may ask, why the preoccupation with smallholder farmers? Simple:

  • They produce food where it is needed.
  • They depend on the natural environment for their food and income.
  • They have the potential to significantly increase their production and livelihoods using existing affordable and environmentally sound technologies – i.e. tried and tested ‘appropriate technologies’
  • They can, and should be, a major pillar of sustainable agricultural growth and global food security.

In Africa smallholder farmers tend to comprise a very important part of the national food production system and economy in most countries. Transformation of smallholder farming should be an important part of the solution to providing food security and improved nutrition.

Responsible Governments



Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.