Universiteit Gent Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen Vakgroep plantaardige productie




НазваниеUniversiteit Gent Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen Vakgroep plantaardige productie
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Introduction




The majority of populations in Africa live in rural areas and depend on small-scale agriculture for food and income. Faced with limited prospects for rural industrialisation, smallholder agriculture will remain the major engine of rural growth and livelihood improvement for some time. Meeting the challenge of improving rural incomes in Africa will require some form of transformation out of the semi-subsistence, low-input, low-productivity farming systems that currently characterise much of rural Africa.


Renewed growth in African agriculture will require financially sustainable intensification of existing cropland, since most of the high-potential farmland in Africa is already under production. High valued crops’ promotion represents one potential avenue of crop intensification. Evidence from other parts of Africa shows that processes of African intensification and productivity growth are often driven by cash crops featuring the development of interlocked credit, input, and output markets.


Theoretically this is fine, but practically there are a lot of obstacles to be overcome before semi-subsistence small-scale farers will be able to profit (completely) from the created opportunities in the liberalised market situation. The purpose of this study was to create a blue print for action to link small-scale farmers (from southern and eastern Sub-Saharan Africa) to commercial sector activities. Two countries, Tanzania and Zambia, each with its own history, were chosen as case studies (see Chapter one for methodology).


First, the importance of agriculture for the economies in eastern and southern Sub-Saharan African countries is described in Chapter 2.


To look for opportunities for small-scale farmers, it is important first to understand their agricultural production and marketing system, and the problems associated with these, which is described in Chapter 3.


In Chapter 4, crops with potential (niche crops and markets) to be developed for the area under research are described.


From preliminary literature surveys and contacts it became clear that contract farming is the better, or even the best means to organise and assist farmer groups if one wants to stimulate market-oriented production of agricultural products. Therefore Chapter 5 deals with important aspects of contract farming. Advice is given how to intervene as donor or NGO to make contract farming a successful means of income generation for small-scale farmers in order to uplift them from subsistence level.


If farmers are to undertake marketing activities, it is necessary to organise them in groups as this is the only way to lower the already very high transaction costs in Sub-Sahara Africa. Good practices for group formation are given in Chapter 6.


To conclude, an overview is given in Chapter 7 of all recommendations made during this study to create a blueprint for action.

Methodology




This policy paper was constructed upon information gathered through desk literature research in Belgium and field visits to Zambia and Tanzania. Used literature sources were scientific articles from policy and development magazines, books about marketing and contract farming, internet and grey literature i.e. project documents (of visited and related projects), and review articles and books from international institutions like for example FAO, IFPRI, etc. During the first visit to Tanzania (August/September 2000) information was collected, mainly through semi-structured interviews (on themes identified beforehand) with numerous resource persons working for (inter)national, multilateral and bilateral organisations and with government employees. In this way, research hypotheses could be tested and adjusted. Once a view was obtained on what was going on in relation with agriculture and initiatives to link smallholders to the commercial sector, some cases (private companies, projects and farmers) were selected and visited in a second phase (April/May 2001) to fine-tune research hypotheses. Zambia was only visited once (February 2001) because an earlier fact finding mission, carried out by the promoter in August 1998 for IFAD, allowed for a ready selection of some interesting cases to be visited and at the same time served as a base line for the present study. It also allowed describing and defining the broader framework of the present study adding an interesting time perspective like recent evolutions and developments. The field data of the second phase were confronted with theory and policy data gathered in the first phase and were used to verify the conceptual framework and hypotheses constructed after the first phase.


Initially, it was planned to amplify the information from the field visits with data collected through interviews executed by local interviewers. Unfortunately, this part could not be executed as no case could be identified that would be capable of supplying satisfying quality information and where it was possible to involve local interviewers (still to be trained or not by the researchers) and finish (and process) this survey within the very limited time period (11 months) of this research.


The problems analysed will be those concerning crop production on arable lands. However, the problems faced in animal husbandry are no less severe and pressing. If crop production and farm income are to be sustainably improved, animal production must also be addressed, and farming be considered as an integrated set of activities that are mutually promoting. This in itself can be considered as a ‘new’ trend away from the classic, colonial-period inspired and promoted approach of mono-crop specialisation.


Almost all small-scale farm-households have at least one member who works outside his/her area in a salaried job, or who would like to but are currently unemployed. Hence, low household income has a double cause: low levels of non-farm employment and low farm income. The discussion will concentrate on the latter. If small-scale farmer sector is properly linked to commercial sector activities, it is to be expected that this will create off-farm employment opportunities in transformation and commerce, to name but two sectors.


For the research leading to the policy paper on the linkage between small-scale farmers and commercial sector activities in Sub-Sahara Southern and Eastern Africa, two countries, i.e. Tanzania and Zambia, were chosen as cases to be studied in more detail.


Zambia was selected because, as already mentioned above, data were available from an earlier fact finding mission. Zambia is a land-locked country with a specific history and political, social and economical system. For a long period, industrialisation was promoted through mining and crude processing of copper. Agriculture only focused on cotton, tobacco and, since the mid 80s, wheat. Zambia is an urbanised country with a few large cities where the majority of inhabitants are concentrated (ASIP, 2001; UN, 2001b).


Tanzania was chosen as it has totally different environmental parameters, as it borders the ocean, and its political, social and economical situation differs fundamentally from Zambia’s. Tanzania had a socialist government and a largely controlled economy. During the 1970s, Tanzania was seen as an example for other third world countries, following the ‘right’ development course with great emphasis on rural development. The conceptual basis for the development of this model, supported by the international donor community, was the African enlightened socialism of Nyerere. Now, thirty years later, almost nothing is left from the former enthusiasm although the socialistic regime put its stamp on the whole political, economical and social system. Tanzania had its first multiparty election in 1992. Liberalisation and privatisation of the economy began about 1984 when government realised that the socialist model was not working. Serious privatisation of state owned enterprises, known as parastatals in tropical Africa, did not begin until 1992, when the Parastatal Sector Reform Commission was established. (Temu & Due, 1998; van Engelen, 2000; World Bank, 2000).


Form preliminary literature surveys and contacts it became clear that contract farming is the better, or even the best means to organise and assist farmer groups if one wants to stimulate market-oriented production of agricultural products. As will be shown, it offers the best possibilities to formerly organise farmers and production. it also goes beyond the mere stimulation of production, as it allows institution and capacity building at grass roots level, creating possibilities to link organisations to money earning activities and vice versa.


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