Farmer appearing dejected over lack of rains PHOTO/COURTESY

By Judith Akolo

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) says crippling spikes in food and energy prices continue to hit East and Southern Africa, coupled by the devastating impact of climate change is having a negative impact on the productive capacity of small-scale farmers.

The Associate Vice President in charge of External Relations and Governance Department of IFAD Satu Santala says there is need to galvanize greater efforts in order to build farmers’ resilience through partnership.

Speaking when Farmer organizations convened in Dar Es Salaam, Suntala   said that small-scale farmers in the East and Southern Africa need support, “Climate change is driving us to the brink of a catastrophe,” she said and added, “While no country is immune to the impacts of climate change, rural communities in low-income countries are the most vulnerable and the least able to cope.”

She notes that the soaring prices for energy and inputs such as fertilizer and feedstock could be the final straw in pushing small scale farmers to the brink.

 “The Forum comes at a critical time when we risk the collapse of agricultural systems that sustain millions across East and Southern Africa. Farmers organizations are the voice of small-scale farmers, including pastoralists and artisanal fishers in the region. These farmers produce most of the food consumed, but are currently not adequately supported,” said Santala.

The Regional Farmers’ Forum that runs from November 24th to 25th is a bottom-up process of consultation and dialogue between organizations of small-scale farmers, rural producers, IFAD and governments, focusing on agriculture, rural development and poverty reduction.

The forums give farmers a platform to speak as a united voice so that their issues, concerns and recommendations become an integral part of policies and practices at grassroots, national, regional and global levels.

The forum will discuss strategies to transform rural food systems and improve farmers’ livelihoods and resilience, “for example through engagement with private sector, greater access to finance, climate change adaptation, and digitalization of agriculture through ICT4D,” she said in a statement.

The participants will also have an opportunity to share best practices and explore new opportunities for partnership, looking at trends and specific country cases of partnerships between farmer organizations and IFAD.

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