Governance and small holder farming in Southern Africa

Conference Report
By Viola Musiimenta, Poverty Eradication and Livelihood Improvement Programme – DENIVA
African small scale farmers and farming has been a subject of debate amongst several stakeholders-including politicians, professionals, private sector and civil society activists. Such debates, while recognising the current central roles of the small scale farmers have raised concerns about whether small scale farming is the answer to addressing issues of rural incomes, food security and other agricultural related activities including agricultural industries. The debates have also included suggestions that commercial farming might provide better options for improved rural livelihoods, thus reducing overall poverty in different countries.
The fortunes and misfortunes of the small scale farmers have also been part and parcel of Government policies and ideology in respect of the roles of the state and the private sector. As will be shown later, such roles have to be redefined, calling for the state to reclaim its responsibility towards its poor citizens.
It is within the above context that a conference was organised in November 2009 by Idasa for its partners and others working with small scale farmers to share and engage in deep reflection and discussions concerning the plight of small scale farmers- and the way forward. DENIVA being a partner for Idasa, participated in this conference. Idasa is an independent public interest organisation committed to promoting sustainable democracy based on active citizenship, democratic institutions and social justice. It was organised by its Economic Governance programme unit.
The aim of the conference was to facilitate interdisciplinary discussions on constraints and opportunities that surround governance and public investment processes and how they are shaping small-scale agriculture in the region.  The conference drew participants from African countries particularly South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Mali. The conference concentrated on issues agricultural investments, budgets and budget priorities and how participation by small scale farmers, their organisations and CSOs can be enhanced.

Download full conference report here.

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2 Responses

  1. My uncle has got a farmer/big land I’d like to be involved in agricultural activities to revive that land. What is the first step. What I’m sure of is that land is so fertile, there may be plenty of job creation if we can get help.

    Please advise.

  2. Dear Fikiswa,
    Thank you for your question and bold first step into the farming world. I must be upfront with you by mentioning that I am not a farmer. However, that should not disqualify me from putting across a few pointers that may guide you towards undertaking your first farming activities. The first step I would advice is for you to have an honest discussion with your uncle on what you want to do with the land, the scale of farming and time invested. You will have to decide whether you want to be a small, medium or large scale vegetable, pig, poultry or livestock farmer ( the activities mentioned here are not limited). Also you may have to discuss whether you will be doing it part time of full time and the amount of funds that you have at your disposal to invest in capital goods and operational costs. Once you come to some kind of semblance on what and how you will undertake the farming, then I would advice that you start talking to institutions such as NASFAM (www.nasfam.org/) who may advice you on the business and networking side of farming in South Africa. They may also be able to advice you on the possibilities of government funding through initiatives such as MAFISA (Micro-Agricultural Finance initiative of South Africa) and how to create employment once your farm is up and running.

    I hope this helps. Good luck and happy farming.
    Best,
    Leslie

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