cornell international workshop on agricultural information systems september 30 october 3 2007
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CORNELL INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON AGRICULTURAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS September 30 – October 3, 2007

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CORNELL INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON AGRICULTURAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS September 30 – October 3, 2007. Smallholder Challenges and Opportunities in Southern Africa. Presentation Outline. Characteristics of a SHF in the Southern Africa Context What type of information do SHF need?

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cornell international workshop on agricultural information systems september 30 october 3 2007

CORNELL INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON AGRICULTURAL INFORMATION SYSTEMSSeptember 30 – October 3, 2007

Smallholder Challenges and Opportunities in Southern Africa

presentation outline
Presentation Outline
  • Characteristics of a SHF in the Southern Africa Context
  • What type of information do SHF need?
  • How can this information help the SHF improve their livelihoods?
  • Challenges encountered by SHF in accessing information they need
  • What opportunities are there?
  • Examples of interventions that have worked in Malawi
  • Proposed steps forward
cont d who is a smallholder farmer in the southern africa context
Cont’d: Who is a smallholder farmer in the Southern Africa context?
  • Has small land holding capacity (i.e. on average 1-2 hectares)
  • Has limited capital outlay for farming investment
  • To a greater extent is a subsistence farmer (I.e.Produces 60% food crops and 40% cash crops)
  • Lacks appropriate farming technologies and does not have mechanised capital assets for agricultural production (e.g. tractors, motorized water pumps, etc); his/her basic tool is a hoe
  • Has limited access to credit
  • Has limited access to extension services
  • Has limited access to markets and market information
what type of information do smallholder farmers need
What type of information do smallholder farmers need?
  • Crop production information

Picture 2: An extension worker conducting training

cont d what type of information do smallholder farmers need
Cont’d: What type of information do smallholder farmers need?
  • Good agricultural (agronomic) practices (e.g. time of planting, plant spacing, weeding, pest and disease control etc)
  • Good land use management
  • Post-harvest crops handling
  • Access and use of inputs
  • Weather forecast in order to decide which crops to grow
cont d what type of information do smallholder farmers need1
Cont’d: What type of information do smallholder farmers need?
  • Market Information

Picture 3: An Agriculture Trade Fair

cont d what type of information do smallholder farmers need2
Cont’d: What type of information do smallholder farmers need?
  • Information on market demanded crops - demand and supply trends
  • Market availability (I.e. is the market for specific crops available? Where is the market)
  • What prices are being offered for different crops
  • Quality issues (e.g. colour, size, sanitary and phytosanitary specifications)
cont d what type of information do smallholder farmers need3
Cont’d: What type of information do smallholder farmers need?
  • Information about other support services

- Credit facilities

  • Agribusiness principles
  • HIV/ AIDS care and support
how can this information help shf improve their livelihoods
How can this information help SHF improve their livelihoods?
  • Crop production information
  • Through improved productivity SHF will be able to uplift their economic well-being through high returns from produce sales;
  • Promotion of agricultural growth and diversity thereby attaining food security at household level
  • SHF will be able to make informed decisions on what crops to grow in order to suit specific rainfall patterns and/ or soil types

- Reduced effects of natural disasters which are exacerbated by poor land use and management

cont d how can this information help shf improve their livelihoods
Cont’d: How can this information help SHF improve their livelihoods?
  • Market Information
  • SHF will know which crops are demanded on the market and hence commit their resources towards producing these crops in right quantities.
  • SHF will be able to take their produce directly to the market, hence by-passing unscrupulous middle-men who often exploit them.
  • SHF will get premium prices for their products by engaging into demand- driven production.
cont d how can this information help shf improve their livelihoods1
Cont’d: How can this information help SHF improve their livelihoods
  • Information about other support services
  • SHF will have better access to agro-credit facilities for farming investment and knowledge of credit management
  • Reduced HIV/ AIDS prevalence and reduced pressure on limited resources (I.e. 14% of the adult population in Malawi aged 15-49 are HIV positive; about one million people were living with HIV in 2005)
  • Shift from subsistence farming towards commercial farming
shf challenges to accessing information
SHF challenges to accessing information
  • Low literacy levels (It is estimated that male literacy level is 48% while that of females is 29%)
  • Poor infrastructure to accelerate information dissemination (most SHF live in rural areas where there is no electricity, hence no access to electronic information)
  • Some radios frequency coverage does not reach other parts of rural areas
  • Shrinking public sector resources (including extension personnel)
  • Low income levels - 65% of Malawi\'s population - in rural areas, lives below the poverty line.This inhibits SHF access to information through cello phones. The few SHF that have cello phones cannot sustainably utilize them all year round except the few months after selling their produce
what opportunities are there
What opportunities are there?
  • There is more political will that has seen an upward curve in agricultural investment (I.e. development of the New Era Agriculture Policy, Malawi Growth and Development Strategy etc)
  • Increased availability and adoption of user-friendly information dissemination technologies
  • Promotion of access to adult education by public and private sector
examples of interventions that have worked in malawi
Examples of interventions that have worked in Malawi
  • Radio programs – SHF are mobilized to form radio listening groups (I.e Development partners and organizations supply radios to SHF and rural communities)
  • Farmer-to-Farmer programs
  • The ‘Model Farmer’ concept
  • Formation of farmers’ clubs
  • Farmer orientated publications (e.g. newsletters and bulletins)
  • NGOs support in provision of extension services
  • Provision of market information to SHF through cello phones (Initiative for Development an Education for African Agriculture)
cont d examples of interventions that have worked in malawi
Cont’d: Examples of interventions that have worked in Malawi

Picture 4: Smallholder Farmers receiving Agribusiness ‘Titukulane’ newsletter

cont d examples of interventions that have worked in malawi1
Cont’d: Examples of interventions that have worked in Malawi

Picture 5: A NASFAM Radio Officer recording a radio program

cont d examples of interventions that have worked in malawi2
Cont’d: Examples of interventions that have worked in Malawi

Picture 6: Farmer-to-Farmer trainers undergoing a TOT facilitated by an official from Agriculture and Research Extension Trust

proposed steps forward
Proposed Steps forward
  • Shift from supply-driven to demand-driven extension services
  • Formation of farmer organizations (I.e. associations, cooperatives, farmers clubs, radio listening groups) where information is shared
  • Promotion of user-friendly publications
  • Public (and private) sector investment in rural electrification programs
  • Engagement of Farmer-to- Farmer programs
  • Strengthening adult education initiatives
slide20

‘Personal transformation can and does have global effect. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us….. The revolution that will save the world is a personal one’.Marianne WilliamsonTHANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION

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