Smallholders are operating in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic, environmental and political landscape. Resource depletion, climate change, demographic pressure, rapid urbanization, higher incomes and changing diets present both challenges and opportunities for smallholders. To ensure smallholders leverage the opportunities offered by these changes, our work will focus on two main areas.
Improving the production efficiency of healthy and affordable food. ACED will continue with its efforts to support smallholders in improving the performance of their production systems. To do that, we will build the capacities of smallholders in developing agroecological production systems. We do acknowledge that most smallholders use chemical inputs in their production systems, hence, part of our efforts will leverage our experience on capacitating such smallholders in transiting towards agroecological farming. In addition, we will invest in research and adapted innovative technologies and practices that increase their resilience to external pressures, such as climate change, natural disasters, pollution, and pest infestations. Furthermore, we will work with smallholders to improve pre- and post-harvest handling of foods, and storage and processing practices to avoid food loss and waste.
Increasing access to markets for smallholders. We have learnt from experience that market access is instrumental in encouraging smallholders to adopt the technology promoted by initiatives and thus, improve their production and subsequently, their incomes and FNS. A first priority of ACED initiatives will be to encourage diversified production of nutritious and healthy foods that may present new market opportunities for smallholders. Using comprehensive data on agricultural and food value chains and markets, we will also promote a more enabling market environment for smallholders that provides fair and transparent prices to adequately remunerate their work and investments. For instance, we will promote short food supply chains that enable smallholders to obtain better prices. Furthermore, we will support smallholders’ capacities to improve their organization, bargaining power, control over the economic environment, and participation in food value chains by acting collectively and forming cooperatives, associations and networks. Special attention will be paid to fostering the participation and equal decision-making power of traditionally underrepresented groups, such as women and youth.
An example of work
With support from the French Facility for Global Environment, the French Committee for International Solidarity and the European Union, we built capacity of over 1,000 farmers to transition into agroecological farming by producing and using water hyacinth compost. We also developed activities that connect farmers to consumers of fruits and vegetables in Benin’s major cities, thereby increasing their selling prices and incomes.
In 5 years, we will have:
- Supported 50,000 farmers to increase their productivity and income, and ultimately improve the FNS of their families;
- Improved smallholder access to markets for their agricultural produce.