154. Few dispute the central role of smallholder farmers in addressing global challenges relating to food security, poverty and climate change. Consensus is also growing that smallholders need to increase their participation in markets if they are to escape poverty and contribute to national and household food security. But the evidence presented here suggests that the mainstream approach which places a lot of emphasis on scaling up the use of agro-chemical inputs, integration into highly commercialised agricultural value chains and aiming for export markets threatens to exclude the majority of smallholder farmers in Africa, and could actively harm their interests.
155. For smaller producers to benefit from the renewed focus on agriculture and the hoped-for increased investment in the sector, more recognition is needed of the specific constraints they face and greater allowance should be made in policy planning and budget allocation to their needs. Ideally, smallholders would be consulted about policies and would have an opportunity to influence decisions about research agendas and budget allocation – some of the indicators suggested here aim to achieve this objective – but while they are not effectively represented continued advocacy will be needed on their behalf to help ensure their needs are taken into account.
156. It is hoped that the wide range of suggested policy indicator questions outlined in this report will serve as a basis for designing more targeted advocacy strategies.