Farm Radio International, a non-profit organization focused on using radio to help African farming communities has joined other stakeholders to mark the fourth edition of the Africa Smallholders Farmers’ Summit 2022.
The program which was hosted at the School of Agriculture, University of Ghana in the Greater Accra Region, brought together agriculture input dealers, organizations and smallholder farmers across Africa to stay abreast of the innovations and technologies improving best farming practices and increasing production yields.
The summit also aimed to create an avenue for all agriculture stakeholders to network, learn and be familiar with new systems.
“There is the need to create opportunities for the smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods,” said Mr. Evans Larbi, lead organizer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Beit Farms.
He said most “poor farmers” are not directly linked to their target consumer markets, due to remoteness of farms and poor road networks, and have no platform for marketers to locate them.
“For us to transform Africa’s economy as Africans, and create jobs for the youth and women in agriculture, we must first transform smallholder farmers into sustainable Agribusiness enterprises through education, empowerment, access to farm resources and incentives, fundings, storage and market support,” he reiterated.
‘The Beit Farmers’ Union, Mr Larbi concluded, with its 98,000 members country-wide, is addressing these and other issues such as ready markets, financial services, mechanization, storage, transportation, distribution and processing, and working towards increasing smallholder farmers’ access to the larger consumer markets, including the international market.
According to him, the initiative aligns with the goals of the Smallholder Farmers association (ASFO).
He said ASFO aims to have a detailed information on the about 33 million smallholder farmers in Africa to be able to connect to all agro-value chain players in Africa and the world at large, so that they can easily and evenly distribute the needed resources, assistance, support, training, skills and so on.
The CEO of Beit Farms added that the agriculture sector has the power and strength to drastically reduce unemployment rate among the youth in developing countries, which at the moment is a global concern.
“Hence, we need a unified association that will seek to serve our sole interest as smallholder farmers,” he noted.
Mr. Larbi said it is necessary for smallholder farmers to increase their income; “Thus we need to create lucrative businesses out of what we do on the farm, we need to get direct access to the main market so smallholder farmers can live above the poverty margin.”
He explained that it is time to deal with the notion and stigma that farmers are poor and farming is not a lucrative venture to go into.
He further indicated that there was the need to fight to change the narrative that farmers are poor.
According to him, farmers do most of the work, yet earn very little, adding that there is virtually little to show for what farmers do, yet they face most of the challenges in the agro-world.
He called on all stakeholders to ensure that effective policies are rolled out to make farming and farmers a priority.
This is a lesson that Farm Radio takes to heart as it continues to work with small-scale farmers across much of our programming, especially in Ghana.