It is a truism that the covid-19 pandemic has jostled governments, policymakers and agricultural value actors to reassess current agriculture and food systems. Africa's food system is constituted by numerous actors with varying interests and influences: foreign and local non-profits, small and growing businesses, corporations, research and academia, media, development finance institutions, and governments.
The past three decades has unfortunately not produced meaningful positive impact on a key population segment involved in food production in Africa. Africa is estimated to have 33 million farms of less than 2 hectares, accounting for 80% of all farms. Majority of these farm production tasks is done by small farm families dotted in rural farming communities on the continent with limited access to resources that could sustainably propel production and create rural economic opportunities.
Current food systems need a refocus and realignment. Our collective efforts should be redirected towards strengthening rural (production) food systems in order to end hunger; make available better nutrition; address climate variability; protect our evironment and biodiversity resources, whiles removing restrictive international trade barriers.
We need to expand our collective efforts to deliver sustainable science-based technologies and comprehensive support systems for millions of rural food producers in Africa. Additionally, we need to invest in initiatives led by entities in the Global South with domain expertise to ensure continuity, since proximity matters with agricultural initiatives to be sustained and expanded upon.
Agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises (agriSMEs) constitute a huge segment of the economic activities conducted along Africa's agricultural value chain. There is a need for an integrated approach to (re)building back agriSMEs to be resilient with adaptive financing and tailored integration into market systems to address rural food market challenges and drive the needed growth it urgently deserves.
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