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Creating opportunities for Africa’s small-scale farmers

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Creating opportunities for Africa’s small-scale farmers
Michelle with some small-scale farmers attending a Proudly Poultry training event. Image credit: Urban Farmer

Creating opportunities for Africa’s small-scale farmers

Africa’s small-scale farmers face many challenges but there are companies focused on finding solutions.  

By Leon Louw 

According to Michelle Marais, Project Coordinator U-MIX at Urban Farmer, small scale farmers in Africa don’t have enough bargaining power in the market due to their low input consumption volumes, limited access to finance, poor infrastructure, shortages of land and poor education, especially in rural areas.

“Small scale livestock farmers are faced with many challenges when making their own feed, including a lack of access to information, good quality inputs such as micro-nutrients that need to be imported, and the high costs of commodities like maize and soya,” says Marais.

South African based Urban Farmer addresses these problems by providing small scale farmers with micronutrients in their premixes, along with feed mixing instructions, suited to their scale of production. Furthermore, the company offers training to assist farmers in animal husbandry, farm management and record keeping.

The company operates across Africa and trades actively into more than 20 African markets. It has partners in Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana.

Marais was the first winner of the 2023/2024 Women’s Insight Deliberation Competition.

The competition aims to provide a platform for women in agriculture to share their voices, wisdom, and opinions on important matters in the agricultural industry.

WhyAfrica interviewed Michelle recently.

“The title of my topic was “Dirty, Sexy, Soil – where agriculture, money and talent come together in the agricultural sector” and spoke about the importance of attracting the younger generation by “making agriculture sexy again.

“In my arguments I contend that agriculture is not always the “sexiest” pursuit. Farming is dirty, hard work, but at the same time it is purposeful and extremely rewarding. I also address the challenges that investors in the African agricultural sector face, and why projects cannot maintain long-term economically sustainable business models when the initial funding dries up,” says Michelle.

Michelle works in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana, and Rwanda.

“In all these countries I feel that the sheer interest, active participation, and enthusiasm of smallholder farmers is an opportunity.

“I never cease to be amazed at how engaging our sessions are, how much farmers are learning, and our team never leaves training without being exposed to at least one or two success stories of farms that started at almost subsistence level that are growing or have grown into profitable businesses.

“The technological adoption across some of these countries such as Uganda and Zimbabwe is also exciting, as digitalisation in these countries will aid training efforts, record keeping practices, access to information, and market access in the future which is uplifting.

“Across these countries a common thread exists that the more rural you go, the more challenging it gets.

“Literacy rates, market access, infrastructure, and technological adoption are lower in rural areas. Urbanisation has also resulted in mostly young and old generations remaining on farms while the middle-aged populations are working in urban areas.

“We find that small scale farmers in these regions require more hands-on and frequent guidance and advising which is challenging from a resource allocation and cost perspective, given that small scale farmers take much longer than commercial farmers to yield financial returns to private businesses,” she says.

Read the full article and interview in the next issue of WhyAfrica’s quarterly magazine. In this magazine we focus on agriculture, mining, mineral exploration, energy, biodiversity conservation, biocredits, tourism and travel, water management and productivity and sustainability in the circular economy. If you want to be part of the magazine, contact us before 30 April for more information.

Remember, you can subscribe to our free newsletters and magazines by clicking on the link and signing up. https://www.whyafrica.co.za/subscribe/

Creating opportunities for Africa’s small-scale farmers

Creating opportunities for Africa’s small-scale farmers
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Creating opportunities for Africa’s small-scale farmers

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