Voices of smallholders critical to transform agric

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Dr Edward Brown, Senior Director, Research and Policy Engagements, ACET
Dr Edward Brown, Senior Director, Research and Policy Engagements, ACET

Vulnerable groups in the agricultural value chain, particularly smallholder farmers, are critical to ensuring agricultural transformation in Africa, an expert has said.

A Senior Director, Research and Policy Engagements at the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), Dr Edward Brown, said there was a growing convergence that voices of smallholders were critical to agric transformation.

Consequently, for the past six years, a coalition of like-minded countries to achieve the above agenda has been formed.

Knows as the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation (PACT), its chapter on agriculture focuses on how to leverage the experiences of countries to move forward.

"The rationale is that if we work together, we can accomplish more than when we work in isolation.

"And if selected groups of countries identify strategic policy issues bedevilling agric growth and we think together, share experiences and learn from one another, we can move forward," Dr Brown said during a two-day virtual agriculture policy forum organised by ACET.  

Read: Innovations needed to improve market access for smallholders - ACET Study

Triple model
The forum also touched on the triple helix model based on the concept that cooperation among government, businesses and knowledge institutions was of essence to the agric sector too.

The Head of Programmes and Advocacy at the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Dr Charles Nyaaba, said having the triple model work well was ideal for addressing some of the numerous challenges facing the agricultural sector.

He said oftentimes, civil society engaged government and researchers on issues and limited farmers’ participation.

Read: ACET launches Small Holder Voices Portal to aid inclusive policy design and implementation

That, he said, resulted in difficult implementation of programmes.

"We need to tease out what works best and we should be cautious not to relegate smallholder farmers to the background.

"They should be the first stakeholders in deciding what will work," he said.

Other panellists gave an overview of how the triple helix model was being utilised in their respective countries.