Food production forum gathers in South Africa

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

The Farmer Organizations Forum which is to link farmers to markets and financial services is to make it easier for farmer organisations to scale-up food production.

In South-Africa this week, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’s, Farmer Organisation Support Centre in Africa (FOSCA) programme in collaboration with the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) is currently hosting this forum of 26 to 28  November, 2012 at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg to exchange solutions that will provide farmers better access to markets and financial services, improve food production and increase incomes.

FOSCA Lead Coordinator Fadel Ndiame says, “Smallholder farmers are critical to meeting the food security demands of the future.”

“Farmer organizations empower and connect hardworking men and women across Africa who deserve the opportunity to engage in the broader agricultural economy.”

The forum will bring together farmer organisations from more than 12 sub-Saharan Africa nations to learn from shared successes and challenges. The meeting will be attended by farmers, farmer organization representatives, agricultural service providers, scientists, development agencies and private-sector leaders.  Experts will share best practices and participate in a field visit to the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market and AGRISA, a commercial farm that helps smallholder farmers access markets large bulk buyers like supermarkets.

“Farmers are the key link between policymakers and the reality on the ground,” said CEO and Board Secretary of the SACAU Ishmael Sunga. “This forum will strengthen the managerial, organisational and technical capacity of farmer’s organisations with an aim of helping them provide demand-driven and income enhancing services to smallholder farmers.”

The meeting takes place against a backdrop of continued concerns about global food security.  With the population of Southern Africa expected to grow to more than 67 million people in 2050, farmer organisations play a pivotal role in linking smallholder farmers to financial resources and the markets they need to feed the future.

Meanwhile, AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. AGRA programs develop practical solutions to significantly boost farm productivity and incomes for the poor while safeguarding the environment. AGRA advocates for policies that support its work across all key aspects of the African agricultural value chain ¬from seeds, soil health and water to markets and agricultural education. AGRA works across sub-Saharan Africa and maintains offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana.

And SACAU (the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions) is a regional farmers’ organisation that was established in 1992. Its membership is open to national farmers’ unions and regional commodity associations in Southern Africa. It is involved in agricultural development in the region by strengthening the capacities of farmers ‘organisations , by providing a collective voice for farmers on regional and international matters, and by providing agriculture related information to its members and others stakeholders.

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