Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)
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Leaping and Learning: Strategies for Taking Agricultural Successes to Scale in Sub-Saharan Africa
Workshop on linking farmers to markets in Southern Africa
9 July 2012


  • We are not investing enough in smallholder farmers. About 80% of the population is rural versus 20% urban at the moment. There is a need to invest now in smallholder farmers. In 2050 it is predicted there may be 60% of the population in urban areas - but at the moment there are large rural populations.
  • Dyborn Chibonga, who heads NASFAM, recently said: 'The hand hoe is the weapon of mass urbanisation.'
  • There is a great need to modernize agriculture and produce more. This needs investment. Infrastructure is key.
  • Dr Akin Adesina, Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says the first weapon he's going to employ is to reduce imports of wheat – to help reduce reliance on imports and encourage local bread makers to substitute cassava or combine wheat with cassava to achieve a palatable output; switching to local alternatives to help boost markets for local producers.
  • Take the example of women in Mozambique selling vegetables at a market that is about 2km away. The women try to sell about 1$ worth per day – that's only 20% of what they bring to the market. Then they lose much by waste, having to bring the vegetables back and forth every day 2km. Much is also lost to waste in the fields because it isn't being harvested as the women spend time travelling / selling at the market.
  • The markets where they achieve a better price are maybe 10km away, and that might be prohibitive.
  • Take the example of Farmer Nevalisi Maliseni in Tidi Village Malawi. She sells tobacco to middlemen because the market is 70km away, but she gets only maybe 50% of the price. We need to align markets to women's livelihoods. There is a project with FANRPAN and NASFAM to achieve this.
  • Identifying, learning from and rewarding success stories is key, and FANRPAN is involved in this work.
  • Examples of people who have won awards include Madam Celina Cossa: Founder/President of General Union of Coops in Maputo Mozambique; as well as Mrs Happy Shongwe, a smallholder seed farmer from Swaziland involved in outgrower schemes for seed farming. She was awarded the FANRPAN policy mover & shaker of the year.
  • FANRPAN is going to a different country in the network each year and awarding a prize.
  • The question of 'scaling up' is about how to multiply the success stories.
    'We put so many resources into pilots, but we never think about life after the pilot'
  • Sometimes although there is demand at the village level, the supply cannot meet it: need for better coordination, more resources, more listening, especially to women farmers.
  • There are some alternative ways of communicating, for example the Theatre for Policy Advocacy
  • Some things are crucially needed:
    • We need evidence: the research community has not got enough evidence.
    • We need more household panel data. Also university researchers need to come down to the practical challenges facing the farmers instead of having their heads in the clouds.
  • What has worked? Document it.
  • What has not worked? Better still, document that, and then what has worked will stand out.
  • What did we do wrong in our attempt to help farmers access markets?

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