How can we connect asset-poor smallholders to markets in southern Africa? And what are the respective roles of civil society, governments, and big business to achieve this?
These were some of the questions considered by agricultural development practitioners from six different southern Africa countries at a regional workshop on 9th July in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event was the first in a series of three regional workshops organised by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and Agriculture for Impact (A4I) at Imperial College London.
The workshop took place as part of A4I and ODI’s ‘Leaping and Learning’ project analysing the evidence on how best to connect smallholder famers to markets at scale, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of FANRPAN and member of the Montpellier Panel, opened the workshop with a keynote speech. She called for African policy makers and global development partners to include and prioritise young people and women in rural development and agricultural initiatives. She said that to achieve success at scale, countries would need documented evidence about what worked, champions equipped with knowledge, and platforms for delivering action. With these elements in place, she was optimistic that we could succeed in reaching smallholders.
The workshop attendees participated in a ‘Smallholder Café’ where they were invited to share ideas and experiences about the challenges and solutions for better connecting smallholder farmers to markets.
For more information about the forthcoming regional workshops in eastern and western Africa please continue to follow this blog and our twitter feed @Ag4Impact .