Smallholder & Commercial Farming Models Not the Future Africa Agriculture Revolution

There are a lot of interesting articles on the web on different farming models for Africa, many of which acknowledge that large scale farming is not possible. However the prescription is social enterprise driven engagement with small holder farmers, such as this New Model farming (http://africanbusinessmagazine.com/special-reports/new-model-farming/) and Realizing the potential for high returns from agriculture (https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/07/realizing-the-potential-for-high-returns-from-agriculture/)

However this new thinking is still flawed because there is no understanding of the thinking of small holder farmers which is grow enough to survive with a little left over to meet basic needs around the household. This does not lead to a focus on agronomical practices that increase yields, or in investments for growth past the current season, or even pursuit of higher revenues for better markets.

I have argued in a previous posts on the mindset shift required for agriculture to succeed in 2015 and beyond https://ugfarmer.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/mindset-shift-required-agriculture-success-for-2015-beyond/ and so has this author Agriculture in Uganda Where Next (http://ssmusoke.com/2014/10/08/agriculture-in-uganda-where-next/)

In summary the model is neither small holder farmers nor commercial farming, but rather a usually ignored hybrid of the two which is mid-tier family owned farming enterprises run by urban trained professionals.

Why would this be successful:

  1. Farms are run as agribusinesses, with cost and revenue models focusing on not only short term profits and longer term growth
  2. The mindset changes allowing the use of professionals such as veterinary doctors, agronomists, crop specialists to maximize the productivity of available land
  3. Increased use of agro-inputs such as improved seeds, agronomical practices such as irrigation, greenhouse farming, fertilizers, as well as pesticides/herbicides/fungicides to control pests and diseases.
  4. Access to capital and financing to smoothen out slumps
  5. Focus on revenues, leading to improved marketing, and distribution models.
  6. Ability to combine resources with others in cooperatives and farmers group to increase purchasing power, advocacy to drive government policy towards policy improvement.
  7. Mindset and appetite for growing economies of scale to improve revenues
  8. Mindset to embrace value addition to increase and stabilize revenues across peak and off-peak seasons

So in order to drive Africa forward the need is to grow the “middle class” agribusinesses which have the potential to feed the world.

What are your thoughts?

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