AGRA rues lack of competitive markets for smallholder farmers

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has described the absence of competitive markets for agricultural produce as one of the major factors affecting smallholder farmers in most African countries.

AGRA is a farmer-centered, African-led, and partnerships-driven institution that works to transform Africa’s smallholder farming from a solitary struggle to survive to business that thrive.

Dessalegn–We cannot transform agriculture without creating competitive markets for smallholder farmers

The institution’s Board Chairpersons Hailemariam Dessalegn is currently in Malawi where, among others, he has held talks with President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and senior Cabinet ministers and leaders of like-minded civil society organizations.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday evening, Dessalegn – who once served as Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia – said lack of competitive market has been one of the challenges haunting smallholder farmers in Africa.

“In our recent research, the issue of markets came out as a priority. In the next agriculture strategy, will be focusing on marketing and trade for agriculture. So, we will be looking into how to make a working market for smallholder farmers to get better prices for their produce,” he said.

Added Dessalegn Boshe, “That’s the core of our work apart from the usual seed systems development where seed is always the basis for everything. That will continue, but the priority will be on the markets.

“Again, we do have systems development programmes like the extension system, the input system as well as market system and financial system as well. Financial system is very important because farmers need finances to grow their crops by getting access to credit and insurance.”

The AGRA Board Chairperson also emphasized the need for Africa to move towards mechanizing the agriculture sector and promoting irrigation, stressing that rain-fed agriculture is no longer viable because of climate change.

The Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe said Malawi has, for decades, invested huge resources in subsistence farming, which failed to transform the sector.

Lowe said the coming and the input from AGRA will therefore motivate the Malawi Government to invest in agriculture commercialization.

Apart from serving as Board Chairperson of AGRA, Dessalegn Boshe is serving as board member and chairperson of various local, regional and international organizations such as Tourism Ethiopia, African Parks Network (APN), The Brenthurst Foundation and African Wildlife Foundation.

Others are The Africa Protected Areas Congress, The AeTrade Group, The Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, The Global Steering Committee for the Campaign for Nature and others. 

He also engages in giving public lectures on domestic and worldwide pressing issues.

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