Smallholder farmers critical to food security— GAWU

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
It is important to recognise that an investment into smallholder farming increases producticvity and lift smallholders out of poverty.
It is important to recognise that an investment into smallholder farming increases producticvity and lift smallholders out of poverty.

The General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Edward Kareweh, has called for increased and sustainable investment in smallholder agriculture to ensure food security and nutrition.

He noted that 80 per cent of domestic production in agriculture was done by smallholder farmers,therefore, policies must be targeted at them. 

“We are busy doing what we don’t need to be doing. We don’t need to go and sign memorandum of understanding with other countries to tell us how we should deal with them. We should develop our country-owned vision for smallholder agriculture,” he said in an interview on how the country can grow agriculture.

He said such a vision should position smallholder agriculture firmly within integrated policies and strategies, that includes connecting smallholder farmers, majority of whom are women, to markets.

Mr Kareweh indicated that smallholders faced challenges in securing market access and eliciting benefits to support their livelihoods.

“The government has an essential role to play in addressing their specific constraints and maximising potential for beneficial access to reliable and remunerative markets for smallholder farmers,” he said.


Smallholders

Smallholder farming is the backbone of African agriculture and food security. Of the two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s population that resides in the rural areas, majority can be considered as smallholder farmers.

The term ‘smallholder’ refers to their limited resource endowments relative to other farmers in the sector and their characteristics differ by country and farming system; farm size; allocation of resources to food and cash crops, livestock and off-farm activities, and their use of external inputs and hired labour.

The majority of the 570 million farms in the world are small. Smallholders supply 80 per cent of overall food produced in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America through farmers, artisan fisher folk, pastoralists, landless and indigenous people.

In addition, 70 per cent of the 1.4 billion extremely poor people live in rural areas and 75 per cent of these rural poor are also smallholders.

A report by the committee on World Food Security states that the economic, social, environmental and political landscape in which most smallholders are operating was changing faster and presented challenges such as financial risks, physical access to markets and access to use of sustainable land and other natural resources.

It recommends the promotion of a more enabling environment for smallholders that provides fair and transparent prices that adequately remunerate smallholders’ work and investments.

Need for sustainable financing

The Executive President of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana, Farmer Anthony Selorm Morrison, in an interview said sustainable financing of agriculture was key to the country’s economic transformation.

He stated that all sectors in the economy and their sub-sectors needed agriculture to survive such that deliberate efforts must be made to ensure sustainable financing.

“There are countries that can sustain themselves on 60 per cent of its own agric produce but we depend on only 40 to 42 per cent. We import fish and everything; it’s mind blowing that we have everything available but there are no data to support it,” he said.

He cited the farm bill model (an agriculture and food policy tool to keep farmers in production and ensure consumers have a dependable food supply), by countries such as the United States to grow the agriculture sector could be adopted by Ghana.

“We must find our own means of financing and not rely so much on donors. Through the farm bill model,the government can create the access for markets for the produce of the farmers so that he will be able to plough back the money and put in its chest,” he said. — GB