As African heads of state gathered in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, for a three-day summit this week to find solutions to food insecurity on the continent, 33-year-old farmer More Cape had a message for them: “Make sure that support reaches smallholder farmers.”
Smallholder farmers like Kaby are responsible for an estimated 80% of food production in sub-Saharan Africa. About 33 million people on the continent are smallholders, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Senegalese President Macky Sall told the summit that the sensitive issue of land reform was among the countries’ priorities to ensure smallholders’ access to land, adding that supporting smallholders, improving market access and building storage and processing units were among the main measures. which countries aim to put in place to boost food production and reduce the continent’s dependence on imports.
Kabi said that despite the vital role they play, they are still struggling to get financing and fertilizers to grow crops.
The outbreak of conflict between Ukraine and Russia, two major producers, has disrupted fertilizer supplies to the continent, and temporary measures have not been enough to curb high prices that small farmers cannot afford.
“Getting financing is not easy at all,” said Kabi as he and seven of his neighbors made their way to a two-hectare patch of green to harvest eggplant as the cool dawn fog shrouded their village some 50 kilometers (31 miles) away. north of Dakar.
He said banks only lend to those they trust the most, adding, “Sometimes the repayment time isn’t right for us, and you can wait a long time before considering your loan application.”
Building the infrastructure
Leaders at the Dakar meeting urged building infrastructure, including roads and storage facilities, to enable farmers to easily access markets and preserve their produce.
“We are always obligated to sell so they don’t perish, if we have a store, we can keep our produce when it is The market is saturated.”
But the area behind the dunes that stretch along the Atlantic coast from Dakar to Saint-Louis about 200 kilometers north is under pressure as cities expand.
Kabi has been farming on family land since he left school at the age of 15, but many smallholders near Dakar have lost their farms to urban development as the city expands beyond the peninsula.