The overall objective of the project: "Accessible systems to manage risks in family agriculture in Africa", now called Farm Risk Management for Africa, or FARMAF, is to improve household food security and the livelihoods of the rural poor. This objective is to be achieved through enhancing access to and use of effective farm risk management tools (systems, institutions and infrastructure) by smallholder farmers in Africa. It is expected that, by using these tools, smallholder farmers will be able to reduce their exposure to downward shocks, improve access to credit and, therefore, their capacity to invest in yield-enhancing technology. The tools will also strengthen the capacity of;smallholder farmers to better manage marketing of their agricultural produce.
The overall impact of these interventions on farm output as well as household income and food security will be positive, thereby contributing to the reduction of poverty in rural households.
The project is jointly funded by the European Commission (EC) and AGRINATURA-EEIG (a consortium of European agricultural research and education institutions) under a four-year funding contract signed in December 2011. It is being implemented in Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Zambia, with the aim that lessons learned may be transferable to other Sub-Saharan African countries. Implementation begun in January 2012, but the official launch took place in September 2012 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
FARMAF recognises that African farmers, who are predominantly smallholder farmers with average farm size of 1-2 hectares, are highly vulnerable to farm risks and uncertainties ranging from difficulties in acquiring farm inputs to major weather-related risks such as drought, floods, windstorms and hailstones. They also face challenges at the post-harvest level, including uncertain access to markets and very high price variability. Tools already exist that allow farmers in most advanced economies to manage these farm risks. However, smallholder farmers in Africa have limited, and often declining, access to farm risk management tools. As a result, they tend to rely on traditional ex ante risk minimisation strategies such as diversification of farm activities (e.g. mixed cropping and crop rotation) and ex post coping strategies such as maintaining reserves of inventories and financial assets. Quite often, these strategies do not optimise productivity and provide limited protection against severe negative shocks.
Tools and approaches
Most of the risk management tools which are being promoted and further developed under FARMAF have been successfully piloted in Africa. These include crop insurance schemes to compensate farmers for weather-related yield losses and simultaneously ease access to production finance.
Innovative marketing institutions such as warehouse receipt systems (WRS), which have improved crop marketing and finance in Tanzania, will be promoted where feasible. So too are agricultural commodity exchanges, which have transformed agricultural finance, marketing and risk management in South Africa since the mid-1990s.
FARMAF is implemented in a partnership between AGRINATURA-EEIG and the farmers' organisations listed below:
- The Pan-African Farmers' Organisation (PAFO)
Three national farmers' organisations in the target countries:
- Confédération Paysanne du Faso (CPF) of Burkina Faso
- Mtandao wa Vikundi vya wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) of Tanzania
- Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) of Zambia
The following regional farmers' organisations:
- East African Farmers' Federation (EAFF)
- Plateforme sous-Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d'Afrique Centrale (PROPAC)
- Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et Professionnelles Agricoles (ROPPA)
- Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU)
Three AGRINATURA-EEIG member institutes are involved in implementation FARMAF:
- Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich (project coordinator)
- Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD)
- Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR)
For further information about the FARMAF project, please contact project coordinator Dr Gideon E.Onumah