Support to governments critical for increasing farmers’ reach

The alignment of investments by development partners with governments’ plans is important for a faster response to the needs and aspirations of small holder farmers, says Thierry Ngoga, the Head of Support to State Capability at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Ngoga notes that while governments have a big role to play in enforcing an equitable access to production resources like land, improved farm inputs, technologies, information and financial support, they often require technical help and other forms of capacity assistance from other stakeholders in the agriculture industry.

Citing the tragic story of Awino, a farmer in the lower Nyando Basin of Kenya’s Kisumu County, Ngoga appealed for the alignment of strategic investments by agriculture sector players with plans that cushion smallholder farmers from all shocks. Awino is currently struggling to feed her family after losing her 2020 crop and only cow to floods, before Newcastle disease wiped out her entire flock of chicken.

“Without access to savings, credit, crop or livestock insurance, Awino has no option but to reduce the family’s number of daily meals,” said Ngoga, while recalling that Awino does not have a title deed to confirm her ownership of the four-acre farm she inherited from her late husband.

Ngoga, however, noted that there is hope in sight as partnerships between various African governments and institutions like AGRA continue to yield the programmes, policies and interventions required to transform the agricultural landscape. However, he added, more can be done to hasten the progress.

“Through strengthened government support, smallholder farmers like Awino can build the resilience they need to withstand floods, droughts and other extreme events,” he said.  

Ngoga’s immediate recommendations are investments that promote resilient agricultural practices This, he says, requires increased a coordinated investment by governments, private sector players and other development partners in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and training, technology development, and the enhancement of plant and livestock gene banks.

“Market systems must also be made to work properly, devoid of distortions,” he concluded.

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