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[NAIROBI] Food insecurity in Africa is threatening many in the continent. So, when a conference had transforming agricultural production to help Africa achieve food security as a key theme, I wanted to hear more.

The 5th Annual Africa Food Security Conference & Agri-Exhibition (AFSC) held in Kenya last week (27-28 September) brought together key players such as  farmers, private agribusiness firms, scientists and international development partners of Africa to debate and develop plans for improving agriculture in Africa.

Africa’s educational system need to actively involve smallholder farmers to help generate new ideas and knowledge.

Sam Otieno

The crucial message that captured my attention during the AFSC meeting was that smallholder farmers are vital to achieving food security, and therefore they should not be overlooked. Rather, their recognition on the continent is crucial.

When I heard that African smallholder farmers comprise almost 80 per cent of the workforce in the agriculture sector, I even became more convinced that investing in them is a necessity.

Experts at the meeting emphasised that agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s development. Therefore, paying attention to agriculture could help the continent achieve some of the sustainable development goals such as zero hunger, no poverty, good health and wellbeing, and gender equality.

Empowering smallholder farmers ensures they access adequate inputs and correct information. This will improve the agricultural sector.

African governments should build capacity of smallholder farmers who are the custodians of our soils, and are the future of the agriculture sector to improve the soils and farm production processes.

Also, Africa’s educational system need to actively involve smallholder farmers to help generate new ideas and knowledge about what the market wants now and to equip them with new farming methods to produce food. African countries should focus on local data and try to collaborate with each other to share different experiences and knowledge about agricultural production and generate solutions that addresses the agriculture bottlenecks.

The AFSC meeting was a clear demonstration of the need to come up with agricultural training and initiatives by African governments for smallholder farmers in order to curb food insecurity on the continent.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.