Rome — The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) senior staff highlighted the potential of smallholder farmers in economic development and food security at the Agricultural Sector Forum in Kenya today.
"The particular experience of IFAD has demonstrated that smallholder agriculture is profitable and that rural communities can thrive when they have access to markets, and have the resilience to overcome the increasing environmental and financial challenges of this modern world," said Périn Saint Ange, IFAD's Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.
The Forum is organized by the Agricultural Sector Coordination Unit of Kenya, a secretariat of ten ministries addressing agriculture and rural development. The forum titled, "Moving Towards Agribusiness for a Globally Competitive Agricultural Sector" brings together stakeholders to review the progress of the implementation of agricultural policies and the extent to which national objectives are being met.
"To accelerate progress in unlocking the potential of smallholders in Kenya, agriculture continues to be viewed as the main engine of economic growth," Saint Ange said. "More support is now needed to help build the capacity of smallholders and their organizations so that they can become viable rural businesses, particularly for women and young people who shoulder the future of Kenyan smallholder farming."
Agriculture is the main employer, job creator and export-earner in many African countries. About 380 million women, children and men in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than US$1.25 a day. Many are malnourished or hungry. But, with some 80 million smallholder farmers in Sub-Sahara Africa producing 80 per cent of agricultural goods in some countries, smallholder farmers have a key role to play in food security. But they need extra support.
Climate change is already impacting Kenyan rural landscapes, and is expected to further exacerbate land degradation and compromise productivity gains and food security. Although the impact is global, wealthy nations have the means and know-how to adapt, but a Kenyan smallholder's ability and resilience to cope with crop and livestock losses, increasing cost of production, or droughts is infinitely less.
IFAD is currently scaling up sustainable and climate-smart smallholder agriculture approaches worldwide, including in Kenya where IFAD has recently updated its Strategic Opportunities Programme with key initiatives and resources.