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Making Agribusiness Work For Smallholders

Making Agribusiness Work For Smallholders

By Nicholas Alifa

It’s no news that over 80% of the foods we eat in Africa are produced by smallholders in rural villages. These farmers are highly disadvantaged economically, as well as in formal education.

On the other hand, the food and agricultural experts from African Universities are trained to serve the large commercial farms, who are, in most cases, very few.  The smallholders that constitute the majority of food producers can neither afford the services of the trained experts nor make a good business sense to do so. As a result, we are faced with the two-fold challenges of experts who do not have enough market for their services, and an existing market of smallholders who do not have trained experts to serve them.

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They’ve got to be a way to make agribusiness sustainable and profitable in Africa, and especially for the smallholders. This is the center focus of the “Making Agribusiness Work” course organized by ICRA at the International Institute For Tropical Agriculture(IITA), Ibadan.

I was privileged to be part of this two-week, down-to-earth, practical and real-life oriented course as an Orange Knowledge Program (OKP) scholar. The course equips me with the necessary skills with which to build trust among the actors along the agribusiness value chain that can lead to a win-win situation for everyone.

One of the profound lessons that stood out for me in this course is the Agribusiness Cluster (ABC) approach, as against the conventional farmers corporation or producers association approaches. This model, according to our facilitator, is based on the ”eat, let’s eat” model. The model is built on the foundation that the pie can always be made large enough for everyone to take a bite if we can strike a balance between coordination and competition among the major stakeholders along the value chain.

From this course, I am better equipped not only to communicate, facilitate trust and negotiate a win-win situation for Agribusiness Clusters, but to also make agribusiness work for both smallholders and every other actor along the value chain.

I will love to appreciate the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) of the Netherlands for granting me the scholarship to be part of this course.

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2 THOUGHTS ON Making Agribusiness Work For Smallholders

  1. If we see agriculture as a business, rather than a cultural thing, then we have to treat it that way. If we reorganise agriculture, we may not need that huge population playing at the basic level, the value creation there is still primitive.

    We may start by resolving the land ownership regime, and from there we can segment farmers and know who’s capable of playing in various value chains. What we currently practise cannot feed Nigeria, let alone export; farming has gone beyond doing what your ancestors handed down to you. To become a better farmer, you need education, what we have been doing in the rural areas isn’t scalable.

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