Today, many voices of small-scale farmers say that they face difficulties in relation to agriculture. This greatly affects their performance and prevents them from making the most of their activities.
It should be noted that in the Democratic Republic of Congo, approximately 80% of the population depends on income from agriculture, the majority of whom live in a vulnerable situation. Small-scale farmers are constantly faced with several obstacles that limit their production capacity and resilience, with a direct impact on their livelihoods and food security.
To help them overcome these obstacles, FAO and WFP, through their implementing partners, are implementing a project to strengthen the socio-economic resilience of small-scale agricultural producers in the DRC with funding from Germany. Taking into account the expectations and concerns of smallholder farmers, these projects address the various links in the agricultural value chain from production, through access to inputs, advisory support, to harvesting, post-harvest management, and marketing.
Targeting small-scale farmers formerly grouped in farmers’ organizations (FOs), farmers’ unions (FUs), and farmers’ cooperatives, the project provides support to small-scale farmers to strengthen the development of inclusive and sustainable value chains. The latter benefit from support to boost their agricultural production and strengthen the socio-economic resilience of their households.
Among the activities organized, the seed fair is a crucial step through which small-scale farmers have found great satisfaction. It is a series of meetings that were organized for several small agricultural producers located in the territories of Masisi, Rutshuru, and Nyiragongo, in the province of North Kivu.
Relief and a smile of hope for small-scale farmers
At a time when the current growing season was already shaping up to be difficult, for most small-scale farmers in North Kivu province, hope was lost that their fields would germinate with new seeds. Access to agricultural inputs, especially good quality seeds, is a headache for many vulnerable households living in rural areas.
As these small-holder farmers testify, this fair is good news to their ears and brings them relief, so much so that they cannot find the right words to thank FAO and WFP.
BORA MAJANGA Clementine, a farmer from the Mudja group, said: “I am very grateful to FAO and WFP for the maize and bean seeds because I had started to prepare my field but I did not know where to find seeds to put under the ground. With these seeds received, I now intend to get to work because I hope to harvest the fruits in the coming days.
KANANE NDIYANABO BITINI, head of the Mudja group, added: “We are happy that the Congolese government, through its partners WFP and FAO, has thought of the small producers of the Mudja group by distributing maize and bean seeds for agricultural production. This is a great step that the small-holder farmers have just taken. Every man, woman, and child is delighted with this support which allows them to eradicate poverty and hunger in their households. I recommend to the beneficiaries not to consume the received grain, which will allow them to harvest more in the future and to have income to pay the schooling of their children”.
Farmers themselves say that the seed fair activity has met their expectations insofar as it will allow them to prepare their fields for planting and to hope to have more in the future. This means that they will be able to sow and obtain income at harvest time to meet the various needs of their households.
Need for timely monitoring
It remains to be seen how the small-holder producers will use the seeds they have been granted and what results will be obtained from them in accordance with the analyses provided by the laboratory test.
This step is all the more crucial and requires regular and punctual monitoring to ensure that the seeds are used for production and not the opposite. This should be followed by advice and visits from agronomists to give small-holder producers practical and technical advice on production from the beginning of sowing to harvesting.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the radio will have to play an essential role to enable the project to achieve the level of impact envisaged. Beneficiaries will need to be sufficiently sensitized about the project and express their concerns through radio broadcasts while interacting in real time with project technicians. This role is more important than ever to enable small farmers to achieve the best results.