SELF-SUPPORTED SUBSISTENT FARMERS CONSORTIUM INITIATIVE
The self-supported subsistent farmers consortium initiative is a strategy that seeks to bring subsistent famers together and support then to make maximum use of their potentials, opportunities and res
The self-supported subsistent farmers consortium initiative is a strategy that seeks to bring subsistent famers together and support then to make maximum use of their potentials, opportunities and resources.
Over 70% of Rural African Farmers are engaged in subsistent farming. Among the major challenges faced by such farmers are; Lack of seed capital or labor, lack of modern farming technologies and equipments, lack of access to market, post harvest losses and "unavailability" of land. Most of these challenges can be managed at the local levels, to a large extent, using effective collaborative, fellow-feeling and communicative strategies. There is large untapped labor, useful indigenous and modern technologies and market opportunities within the African communities that should be identified and developed for the benefit of the local communities.
This initiative is good and unique as it makes the farmers less dependent on foreign or external supports which are often expensive and unsustainable.
The main objectives of the initiative are;
- Help famers to identify their available potentials and resources, improve upon them and make maximum use of them.
- Help farmers to develop already known or useful traditional farming techniques and strategies.
- Help farmers to identify available support and potentials within their locality and access them.
- Create a platform for farmers to share ideas and resources, discuss challenges and device strategies to solving them.
- Help the farmers to enter into symbiotic associations
- Help farmers to collaborate to create bigger and more profitable market opportunities.
- Link farmers with appropriate partners and support groups.
A Look at the Challenges
African has vast fertile lands, however, each year many rural poor populations wonder about looking for lands to do farming. In Ghana, for example, many of the people who travel from the Northern parts of the country to the south to do farming end up penetrating into remote areas before they get lands to farm on. Such farmers usually get good harvest but how to transport these foodstuffs from those inaccessible areas to the market becomes a problem.
Generally, farmers in rural African do not get the expected income from their farm produce due to the lack of ready market for their produce. The crops are usually produced at the villages and often have to be transported to the nearby towns to be sold. The transportation cost takes large chunk of their income while at the market they have little control over the pricings of the commodities. The farmers usually do not have individuals or organizations that regularly buy their produce; neither do the buyers also know, at a particular time, the farmers who have the commodity they want. The prices they get for their commodities, therefore, depend on the availability or otherwise of the same commodities on the market as well as the demand.
The lack of ready market has a lot of influence on post-harvest losses. If individuals and organizations are available to buy the crops, fewer produce would be left to store. Again some of the produce do not go bad easily unless they are harvested; (e.g. plantain, banana and root and stem tubers) so that if the farmers know exactly when the buyers will come to buy the produce, they can delay the harvesting of those crops.
Access to capital or labor remains a major challenge. Many rural folks do have lands, however, the farms they make in a season can barely feed them and their families because they do not have the capital or the labor to cultivate large farms or buy farming inputs. Many of the farmers go for loans at high interest rates or they collect money from the buyers whom they are later forced to sell their commodities to at very low prices.
This project would be more successful if it is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with private partners. It is expected to receive high support (technically and financialy) from the government as it is in line with the government's poverty alleviation strategy. The private sector can initiate the process and also acts as a facilitator and an evaluator.
Th cost for implementing this project is expected to be relatively low and will go mainly into the development of tools and guigelines and training/orientation of personnel.
The implementation of the project will involve four phases:
- The development of implementation protocols, guidelines and tools. This will begin with a baseline survey or a study to identify the available resources, opportunities and potentials. This information will be used to design the implementation protocols, guidelines and tools for the project
- The second phase will involve capacity biulding; the tools and guidelines would be used to train Misitry of Agriculture field staff and other stakeholders
- The third phase would involve the mobilsation and training of the farmers groups.
- The fourth phase will involve implementation, monitoring and supervision
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