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our response: participation

Support that is aimed at smallholder farmers can only be effective if those farmers are involved in the design and implementation of that support.

However, our experience indicates that smallholder farmers are largely absent from the decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods. Women tend to be particularly excluded in this respect, lacking political voice and representation as a result of social, cultural and economic constraints.

Multi-lateral and bilateral donors should encourage partner governments in Africa to engage smallholder farmers, and particularly women, systematically in the design, implementation and monitoring of agricultural policies, research and programmes. They should also help civil society organisations, particularly smallholder farmers' groups, to develop their capacity to demand the services and support that will enable them to increase their productivity.


  • There are over 300 million rural poor people in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 62% of the rural population in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than US$1.25 a day.
  • 30% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished.
  • Africa has approximately 33 million small farms, representing 80% of all farms in the region.
  • Smallholder farmers produce as much as 90% of agricultural output in Africa.
  • The vast majority of smallholder farmers are women. Women produce over 70% of the food in Africa.

Sources: IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011, FAO/WFO The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2010, 2005 Information Brief Small Farms: Current Status and Key Trends, Oksana Nagayets, 2009 IAASTD Report: Agriculture at a Crossroads.

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