Small-holder farmers essential to agricultural growth - CNBC Africa

Small-holder farmers essential to agricultural growth

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Small-holder farmers are crucial to Africa's growth. PHOTO: Getty Images

“They have to be able to feed their family and, in addition, make a business of it because agricultural development, as president [Jakaya] Kikwete says, has to develop farmers into businessmen, to understand they can do something which they can not only feed their families on but earn money on,” Jorgen Ole Haslestad, chief executive of Yara International, told CNBC Africa.

“Then they can send their children to schools and participate in developing the country, and in this context, Tanzania. Without the smallholder farmers, [there’s] no chance.”

Haslestad speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, believes that initiatives like Grow Africa, a partnership platform that seeks to accelerate investments and transformative change in African agriculture, can also help in supporting agricultural development.

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“The potential in Grow Africa is huge. I’m very pleased that Kikwete was then able to bring in a lot of other African countries and one can see that Kikwete stood up and said, ‘I am the champion [of] growing African development or agriculture businesses. That has helped to a very great extent and I see huge opportunities and possibilities for it in the future,” he said.

Grow Africa, an organisation partnered with the World Economic Forum as well as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), has a presence in a number of African countries including Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania.

It also aims to increase private-sector investments which, Haslestad indicated, are instrumental in providing training and development for small-holder farmers.

“We have been in Africa for 35 years and over the last 10 years, we were working in Tanzania on The Last Mile Alliance which is bringing not only the products out to the small-holder farmers but also  the expertise because the expertise is necessary. They can teach the farmers what to produce using what sort of seed, the right fertiliser, the right products so he can get the right yield and sell it to the market.”

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