The dangers of romanticising subsistence farming in Africa
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
A report from African Smallholder Farmers Group, due out next month, accuses aid donors of focusing on commercial farming and agricultural technologies. But the authors should avoid romanticising small-scale and chemical-free farming techniques that results in subsistence production only. Removing limits on land ownership, barriers to trade in farm goods and taxes on crucial inputs like fertiliser are necessary measures to improve crop yields, nutrition and health. On the other hand, encouraging every family to farm and feed itself has been tried and tested – with disastrous consequences. Small-holder farming may sound quaint but the consequences of entrapping Africans in low yield production are far from it.