Small farms ‘can beat the downturn’
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, he told delegates: “Smallholder agriculture is the largest private-sector activity in many African countries. It not only feeds families, it provides jobs and catalyses the growth of rural businesses and broader development.”
Agriculture accounts for about 30% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, at least 40% of its exports and up to 80% of employment. But Africa’s 80m smallholder farms are far from realizing their potential, he argued. To protect the most vulnerable people, particularly those living in rural areas, African governments need to put money into agriculture to prevent a slide back into poverty and to stimulate growth.
This call was echoed by Mohamed Beavogui, director of IFAD’s western and central Africa division: “Economic uncertainty prevails in Africa, as elsewhere. A growing farm economy can counter that uncertainty by creating off-farm jobs, agroprocessing and small-scale manufacturing, and generating domestic resources for governments,” he said. “African governments under fiscal pressure need to recognise and explore this potential to help avoid any hasty reactions that might end up undermining agriculture.”