Agriculture / Drought / East Africa / Film and video / Food Security / Kenya / Vulnerability

Small farmers are productive farmers, if given the right support–de Schutter

Watch this 6-minute ILRI film about a previous drought that devastated much of East Africa in 2008–2009. In Kenya, the Kitengela Maasai pastoral rangelands south of Nairobi, and the hot and dry crop-livestock farming district of Kitui further east, experienced many of the worst effects, including reports of the deaths of up to half of the livestock in these regions. This film gives voice to Kitengela herders and Kitui farmers with personal experience of the drought.

In the Guardian, Mark Tran profiles farmers trying ‘to eke out a living in the semi-arid part of eastern Kenya, a region blighted by the worst drought in 60 years.’

‘. . . Famine in the Horn of Africa and surging food prices are concentrating the minds of policymakers on the need for long-term solutions, particularly for small farmers. If they can become as productive as their peers in Asia, the argument goes, they can move from self-subsistence, make a decent livelihood, and ultimately drive economic development on the continent.

‘Agriculture, predominantly small scale, accounts for about 30% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP and at least 40% of export value. Having fallen out of favour in the development debate in the last decade, agriculture these days gets its own G20 summits and there are moves to make agriculture the centrepiece of the he Rio+20 global development summit next June. . . .

‘Professor Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, argues

small-scale farming can be as productive as large-scale farming, if not more so. . . . But a number of conditions must be satisfied to ensure decent livelihoods and to allow them to move beyond subsistence agriculture.

‘”Small-scale farmers must have access to markets, which means routes and means of transport, or else they depend entirely on the goodwill of middlemen, who pay them low prices and vis-a-vis whom they are in a very weak bargaining position,” he said. “They must have support from the state in the form of agricultural extension services and training and they must have access to inputs.”. . .’

Read the whole article by Mark Tran in the GuardianAfrica’s battle for agricultural development, 13 Sep 2011.

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