I was inspired by the article published in 2016 by one of the foremost woman transforming agriculture across the continent of Africa, Dr. Agnes Kalibata – President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). In her article titled “Smallholders Front and Center” – Because they aren’t satisfied with poverty as a way of life, she pointed out about the role of policy, government, private sector and other key actors in creating a better smallholder farmer and an agricultural transformation that Africa awaits.
“The reason for Africa’s agricultural stagnation is not a lack of potential. It is not a lack of dedication. It is not a lack of demand. It is a lack of attention, a lack of commitment, and a lack of investment. There is an immense opportunity to design and implement policies that help smallholder farmer prosper — and in so doing wipe out poverty and pave the way toward a great African future”. – Dr. Agnes Kalibata
Inspirations from this publication led to the launch of the “Agriculture for Development in 2017”, an advocacy campaign which started from December 2016 till late October. The aim of the agricultural advocacy goes beyond talk to walking and working the talk in grassroots agrarian communities where farmers are termed as the king of the soil. The campaign targeted rural smallholder farmers but to get everyone along, it started with a top-down approach where key players along the value chain such as development workers, researchers, market development analyst, processors, agro-marketers and youth champions in the field of agriculture joined the campaign by adding their voices to support the movement of creating changes for smallholder farmers in 2017.
The “I support #Ag4Dev2017” advocacy campaign aimed at ensuring that agriculture is fully strengthened to aid development and contribute to ending poverty while voicing concerns that ensures that agricultural development doesn’t leave anyone behind in 2017, particularly rural smallholder farmers.
The strategy – Attracting the Audience
The campaign researched on number of agricultural achievements and programmes implemented in 2016 – both successful and unsuccessful and also reflected on numerous promises but lacking effective implementation, particularly for the rural agrarian communities. Moreover, a key concern was placed on the effect of climate change and its threats to agriculture and the smallholders. Focus was also given to the issue of market accessibility and lack of information and advisory services to farmers – hence, the need for proper agricultural development that covers social, economic and environment aspect.
Having these assertions, action plan was drawn and post were scheduled for the social media audience and influencers. A short post was posted on Facebook to alert the audience, then followed by the hashtag picture with development experts who has been involved in numerous agricultural and development programmes across the 36 states in Nigeria. This was followed by the highlighted Facebook post.
- A single training on Good Agricultural Practices can transform the lives, productivity and standard of living of smallholder farmers
- Incentives that support social, economic and environment and properly channel towards smallholders can transform our nation, our continent, our world
- Series of programmes and projects which focus more on the felt needs of smallholders than on top down design will create a sense of sustainability and feelings of belongings for smallholders
- Last but not the least, did you know that we can make agriculture attractive for young people if our slogan and action is #Agriculture4Development
To all the great minds in every corner of states, regions, communities, villages, settlements……. we can create trends that aimed at a lasting impact and obviously brings development in the green sector in 2017 and beyond.
Targets audience for this advocacy campaign includes all stakeholders not excluding big players but special focus on smallholders, aim at giving them voice.
So, I started this with some of the big players in the development sectors and so, I PLEADED WITH EVERYONE TO WRITE THEIR HASTAG “#Ag4Dev2017” and post it across social media, visit any farmers within their reach and also tell someone to tell someone.
And to those who showed interest to join the #Ag4Dev2017 advocacy campaign, I want to say thank you. This is to inform you that your contribution can be in form of:
- Write any sentence or short write-up on what you think agricultural development can address (basically – what, who, where and how)
- Take a picture of you holding the hashtag #Ag4Dev2017 or take a picture of a third party (farmers, decision makers at any level, players along the value chain or outside the value chain etc.)
- Organize a group and a take a picture with the hashtag #Ag4Dev2017 or shot a video conveying a message about agriculture in the context of the hashtag
- What you can do has no limit – think and just do it but include the hashtag #Ag4Dev2017
It was indeed a great modality adopted such that we have great audience from states in Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru and Italy joined the campaign. Few of the online posts were extracted below:
Grassroots extreme poverty eradication starts with the small holder farmers through Sustainable Best Agricultural Practice, which is climate sensitive #Ag4Dev2017
As we look forward into 2017, it’s very pertinent that development in the agricultural sector be on the increase.
You know why? We all have to eat of course and eat healthy food. One of my usual slogan is No farmer, No food, No nation. So am in for this campaign #Ag4Dev2017 championed by my agro-colleague John Agboola.
I was with some group of farmers days ago and I encouraged them to go all out for increased investment and cultivation in the coming year in order to experience a greater development in the agricultural sector come 2017 hence they are all part of this move. So let’s go there.
No country can develop except there is adequate food for the citizens. And there won’t be any development in agricultural sector until “ACTIVE CHANGE” is initiated by passionate people to promote agriculture especially among the smallholders.
I joined my friend John Agboola to establish a radical change in the agriculture sector tagged as “Agriculture4Development2017”, as we all know that, “NO FOOD, NO NATION”
My friend John Agboola from Nigeria has started an advocacy campaign #Ag4Dev2017 and I am glad to join with this campaign 🙂 I support #Ag4Dev2017 // Mi amigo John Agboola de Nigeria ha empezado una campaña de promocion #Ag4Dev2017 (agricultura para el desarrollo 2017) y yo estoy encantada de unirme a esta campaña.
Whenever you eat #rice, remember that alot of what you eat is produced by old men like this who have dedicated all their lives to food production. With all the government programs all over the media, I have seen communities who have never received any form of intervention.
This old farmer is only able to get 1ton per hectare; since he has no access to paddy, he plants his grains…
Since he cannot afford to pay for labour, his 2 wives and 2 daughters do all the work.
We met them trying to thresh their “Christmas rice”
Right on the Farm with the Farmer
One thing I surely enjoyed doing is meeting rural smallholder farmers right on their farm, listen to their success stories, failures, challenges, observe their agricultural potentials, learn again the tradition approach before updating them with the needed knowledge about market inputs, agricultural technology and advancement in farming practices, agronomic practices and skills needed and then, taking photo of farmers to flaunt their potentials to the whole World – the power of a smallholder farmer and the need to support him.
In 6 agrarian communities in Osun, Ekiti and Oyo, different farms were visited and trust me, farmers are lively, hospitable and you just want to be with them. Imagine a farmer holding the hashtag to advocate for his own support (#Ag4Dev2017) – check pictures of the field engagement here
Impacts beyond the Advocacy Campaign
2017 has been a tremendous year for farmers and we are surely getting to a stage where a farmer can typically be called – The Smiling Farmers. The campaign tagged key players who are implementing policy for smallholder farmers and also, voice farmers’ concerns at conferences and policy dialogue summit held in Nigeria such as Akwa Ibom Agricultural Policy and Food Sufficiency Strategy Summit, British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation 2nd Dialogue Session on National Agriculture and the Smallholder Farmers etc.
There has been a strategic shift in creating the agriculture desired by smallholder farmers where the language of the farmers is spoken. Few of the changes include programmes and interventions such as NiMet Signs MoU with BATNF on weather information for farmers, Inauguration of Project Coordination Unit for Effective Projects Implementation, gradual implementation of the Nigeria’s Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020, NIRSAL Nation-Wide Program to Support Rice Growers, more agricultural support from African Development Bank, European Union, Natural Research Institute (NRI), Michigan State University and from philanthropist such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and incredible efforts from International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and host of others.
Beyond 2017, I look forward to 2018 – a year where rural small-scale farmers will be scaled-up in terms of productivity, income, economic livelihood and health, social inclusion in policy and dialogue and ultimately, programmes and interventions that speaks the language of the farmers and sustainable.
As we step into 2018, remember the words of Dr. Agnes Kalibata – Small changes can make a big difference in the lives of farmers struggling to survive; the rest they can do themselves
Special thanks to everyone who participated and joined the movement – we can surely do more for agriculture.