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.