ASFG estimates there are 500 million smallholder farmers in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, the smallholding farmer is more likely to be a woman, live in a remote and isolated rural area, to have children, and to live in extreme poverty.
The NGO One Acre Fund uses a model for addressing agricultural productivity and extreme poverty for these African smallholder farmers. They work exclusively with farmers, and they have a model that provides farm inputs such as good seed and fertilizer on credit; a distribution network that brings the inputs to the door; a training model which brings educators every two weeks to discuss new techniques and tools; and assistance in harvest sales. This four-part model allows farmers the ability to increase the productivity of their farms and the fertility of the fields, while paying off loans for seed and fertilizer over a growing season or year.
Productivity and fertility of sub-Saharan Africa’s farmland is dropping dangerously, but we know how to address the issue. We have the tools and equipment needed to increase farm productivity significantly. What has to be done, though, is to bring farmers what they need and allow them to pay back the microfinance loans over the season of the farm. We also need to help educate farmers on proven methods to increase productivity and soil fertility.
Agricultural growth consistently has a greater impact on extreme poverty reduction than growth in other areas of development. The impacts on rural community development, child health, and community education and development are all tied to improving the productivity of rural smallholder farms. One Acre Fund’s model addresses needs from seed to harvest, and includes the very important distribution system for rural areas and education for farmers.
When we consider the challenges ahead with agriculture and food production to meet the needs of a world population of 11 billion by 2050, the issue of successful models proven to improve rural farm productivity in sub-Saharan Africa becomes critical. This four-step model has been successful, and could be transplanted to other regions with significant rural farming and extreme poverty.
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