Issue 25 – April 2014

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF)

In 2008, the initiative to declare an International Year of Family Farming was launched by the World Rural Forum (WRF), in collaboration with more than 350 organizations from 60 countries on 5 continents. These included major regional networks of family farmers’ organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2011, taking note of a proposal put forth by the session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, 2014 was formally declared to be the “International Year of Family Farming” (IYFF).

Since 2011, FAO has been in close contact with the Rome-based UN agencies, IFAD in particular, to discuss joint coordination efforts and activities for implementation.

The aim of the IYFF is to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas .

The IYFF has four key objectives:

Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector. A total of 1.5 billion people worldwide are estimated to be involved in family farming, with almost half of the developing world’s farmers being women. The overall number of small farms is estimated at over 500 million. Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities, managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labour. It is also a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production.

It is widely recognised now that growth in agricultural production required to meet rising global needs is unsustainable using prevailing large-scale farming practices, and that our future food security depends on smallholder farmers. However, they are often the most neglected.

IFAD and the IYFF: Smallholder and family farming central to IFAD's mission

Smallholder and family farming are central to IFAD's mission of reducing poverty and hunger in the rural areas of the developing world. IFAD-supported programmes help poor rural people improve their food and nutrition security, increase their incomes and strengthen their resilience.



© IFAD    

IFAD has empowered over 430 million people to grow more food, better manage their land and other natural resources and break out of poverty. As a fund, IFAD guides and encourages responsible investment in agricultural production. It also supports the formation of farmers' organisations which results in more sustainable food and income production.

IFAD believes that smallholder and family farmers can and should be at the forefront of the transformation of world agriculture.

IFAD is committed to the success of the IYFF. As a point of departure, IFAD calls on national and global policymakers to:

IFAD also recognizes the role and rights of women in family farming. Women make up approximately 43 per cent of the global agricultural labour force, but inequalities in access to productive resources restrict their yields by an estimated 20 to 30 per cent. If captured, this production could reduce global hunger by 12 to 17 per cent. Investing in smallholder family farming is key to promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. For example, the Districts Livelihood Support Programme in Uganda uses volunteer mentors to transform gender relations within the household (see story below). Participating households have reported not only an increase in income and food security, but also improvements in women's decision-making as well as more harmonious household relations. Furthermore, household income controlled by women has a greater impact on family welfare, improving nutrition and reducing poverty.

Empowering youth

Smallholder family farming can also empower young people. Given that the majority of poor young people are still living in rural areas, finding ways to enable them to obtain decent livelihoods must be a priority. At present the absence of decent work opportunities in rural areas is one of the reasons young people are migrating at unprecedented levels. This deprives rural communities of their most energetic and innovative members. But IFAD believes that with the right investments, there is potential to create productive opportunities for young rural people, which can provide a viable alternative to migration and ease pressure on saturated labour markets.

Challenges for family farming

Smallholder and family farmers are faced with a great number of challenges which need to be addressed if we are to support the development of sustainable family farming. They include:

In the light of such challenges, IFAD believes that continued – and heightened – investment in smallholder family farming is essential to reaching the future we want. IFAD places family and smallholder farmers at the centre of rural development efforts. With the right economic, social and environmental conditions, smallholder family farmers can be at the forefront of a sustainable transformation in world agriculture.

Useful Links:

ESA's response to Family Farming: Regional Implementation Workshop 2014

ESA is actively engaged in promoting broad discussion at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding about the diverse contributions from, challenges faced by and support needed for Family Farmers and smallholders in East and Southern Africa.

In Africa, two-third of the population depends on agriculture for food, income and employment with women providing most of the labour force. It is estimated that 80% of farmers are smallholders. They generally produce little or no surplus, with very low productivity. Their major obstacle to production is lack of access to agricultural inputs.

In honour of the IYFF and to actively engage in the global discussions on family farming, ESA has decided to address the 2014 Regional Workshop Agenda around the family farming theme.

The land of the legendary African walking safari, the Victoria Falls, the wild Zambezi River, abundant wildlife will be the setting of the 2014 Regional Implementation Workshop.

The workshop will be participant driven and will take stock of experiences gained from the previous workshops, including evaluation and feedback received in Ethiopia. It will pay particular attention to the 2012/2013 portfolio review and to key issues patterning to project implementation. The workshop will include high level panel discussions and will combine plenary sessions with working groups addressing specific themes.  Besides the main programme, there will be field visits for the participants on the third day of the workshop.

Themes of the workshop include:

The Zambia Team will welcome all participants, IFAD regional and Country Programme Managers and Country Officers, members of existing IFAD Project Management Units, government officials and policy makers participating in the ESA regional consultations to the Zambezi Sun International Hotel, Livingstone, from 6 to 9 May 2014.

Useful Links: (available from 28 April 2014)

Land tenure: a critical issue to sustain family farming

Land is fundamental to the many farming families whose livelihoods depend on it. However, their access to land is increasingly more threatened because of heightened competition as a result of rising world population, climate change, declining soil fertility and the need for global food and fuel security.

IFAD and land tenure security

Land for all: the example of Madagascar



Family involvement on the land

In Madagascar, poor rural people had long been barred from owning the land they depended on for their survival. In 2005, the Government of Madagascar introduced a land policy to improve land tenure security across the country. This enabled Malagasies to formalize ownership of the land they depended on, using a simple certification process. IFAD supports this extensive programme and as part of IFAD-funded projects, local land administration offices have been issuing land certificates to local people to secure tenure of the land they are working.
"I'm very happy to have my land certified," says Bruno Zafimihary, a rice and cassava farmer. "This new system is a quick and easy way of securing our land. Now the land is safe for my children and grandchildren."

Since 2006, IFAD has supported a total of 71 land offices and more than 3,100 land certificates have been issued. One of the challenges is to ensure that land certificates are distributed equitably, including to the poorest people and to women. The issues of sharecropping and secondary land use rights as well as pastoral rights must also be addressed. Moreover, rural people often have no birth certificate, and therefore no identity card, which means that they are barred from applying for a land certificate. For this reason, IFAD has been supporting government services in delivering identity papers to those who lack them.

Women and land

Today, more and more women are heading rural households. Yet women often have weak rights to the land they farm, or are denied rights entirely by law or custom and even by their families. This has thrown many women and their children into poverty. IFAD's Women's Land Rights Project has been working since 2008 to strengthen land rights for women across the globe.



Having rights on the land

In Burundi, where women's inheritance rights are often not respected, land disputes between neighbours and family members are now seen as a major cause of the 12-year civil war that ended in 2005. An IFAD-funded project is building community awareness of legal processes, while providing legal advice and helping women fight their cases in court. A first step in the initiative is literacy classes, so that women can read legal documents before signing them. The resolution of land disputes is a key factor in helping Burundi rebuild a peaceful society.

The same issues afflict women in Kenya. Monica was 28 and a mother of six children when her husband died. Family tradition and local customs dictate that land is passed on to future generations through the family or clan, so she had to fight to keep a plot of land to grow food for her children. "I had 1.5 acres when my husband was alive. After he died, my brother-in-law grabbed one acre and built a hut on the remaining half acre," she said. "I went to the chief for help who explained that he would need the elders to make a decision. The chief and elders walked around my boundaries and said my brother-in-law should give me back the land. At first my brother-in-law agreed, but as soon as the chief and elders left, he told me to get off the land and if I were to come back, I would lose my neck."

In Kenya and elsewhere, IFAD is working with local leaders and women's groups to help them protect women's land rights. When women have land security, they can grow and earn more. They usually spend these proceeds on caring for the family. Strengthening women's land rights not only contributes to gender equality, it also improves food security and reduces poverty for the whole family.

Inclusive business models across Africa



Secure land tenure critical for small farmers

IFAD supports investment by smallholder farmers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples in their own production systems. It is also working with partners to identify alternative business models that can strengthen land and natural resource rights and boost agricultural development. These alternative ways of structuring agricultural investments include different types of contract farming schemes, joint ventures, management contracts and new supply chain relationships. The many land tenure initiatives and policies supported by IFAD are contributing to strengthening family farming, and ensuring smallholder farmers have the right environment and conditions to develop their farming activities as a family, with all family members bringing their economic contribution.

For more information, please contact:

Harold Liversage, Regional Land Adviser, Kenya, IFAD
Steven Jonckheere, Land Tenure Expert, IFAD

Ethiopia: Greater involvement of families in soil conservation in the Amhara region

Women were not initially included in the conservation efforts put in place under a land rehabilitation project in Lake Tana. According to a traditional division of tasks, they were asked to stay at home to take care of the household tasks. It took the strong will of a group of women, as well as the vision of their respective husbands, to turn the situation around and fully involve the women of the community in the decision-making process.

The Community Based Integrated Natural Resources Management Project, supported by IFAD and the Ethiopian Government, was introduced in 2010 to combat land degradation in a region where soil erosion is the primary factor for degrading fertile lands and loss of fertile soil. The project is being implemented in 27 woredas, or administrative districts, of the Lake Tana Watershed, the area drained by Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, and connected rivers.



Renewed grazing land in lake Tana, Ethiopia
© IFAD/D.Magada

The Project tackles the root causes of land degradation in the Lake Tana region by introducing sustainable land management practices in watersheds that experience an average soil loss of 30-50 tons per hectare a year. It is a slow process as it takes years for enough organic matter to build up for soils and plant species to reoccur in severely degraded lands. The project's conservation efforts focus on convincing the communities to allocate and respect no-grazing and no-tillage protected areas, as well as developing their interests in conservation activities through regional learning exchanges and trainings. Through learning exchanges with other communities that have successfully rehabilitated severely degraded lands in the Tigray region in the North of Ethiopia, communities have been able to view the positive impacts of conservation activities, and replicate them back home in the watershed management committee they set up.

Empowering women to have a stake in conservation

When Yeshifana Amhara's husband, himself a committee member, returned from a learning exchange in Tigray, he was convinced of the benefits of integrated watershed management activities. He also witnessed the women's dynamic participation in Tigray and encouraged his wife, Yeshifana, to vie for a position on the Board. That was a forward-looking initiative as women are usually expected to stay at home to take care of household tasks.



A family of farmers who benefited from land rehabilitation in lake Tana, Ethiopia
© IFAD/D.Magada

Yeshifana Amhara is now amongst the 16 women who are actively participating in the Mekakoria watershed committee of 20 community members. She shared why she decided to encourage women's participation in the committee's activities: "After attending gender sensitization trainings from the Division for Women and Youth affairs, we became aware of our rights and our entitlement to contribute to the community decision-making process. This inspired us to mobilize women and young people to be more involved in the watershed community," she explained. "We hope to protect the damn in our Kebele from siltation, and to develop the soil fertility and the biodiversity of our watershed in the hope that our children will continue to benefit from our conservation efforts in the future."

Women now almost equally participate in soil and watershed conservation activities, as 220 men and 200 women have registered to participate in organized activities. The watershed committee has also provided a platform for farmers to organize themselves to become members of a Savings and Credit Union (SACCO) to access loans to invest in developing their farm. Currently, 80 people in the watershed community are also members of the SACCO. Each member contributes a minimum of 20 Birr (about US$1) a month and with 3,486 registered members, the SACCO is able to mobilize a minimum saving of 836,640 Birr (US$45,223) a year.

Forest conservation reaping profits

Women are also involved in forest conservation activities, such as planting eucalyptus trees and preserve forests within the watershed. The project trained community members to propagate and maintain a eucalyptus tree nursery, to plant seedlings, reviving the forest, which had virtually become barren grassland as trees were cut down for charcoal and firewood.



Rehabilitated watershed in lake Tana, Ethiopia
© IFAD/D.Magada

By the end of the seven year project, 1,040 hectares of degraded lands will be revived by planting suitable tree species and 1,293 of community forests will be protected to revitalize watersheds in 27 woredas within the Lake Tana Basin. Engaging families in forest and watershed committees has created synergies to enhance collective action for conservation efforts. These committees strengthen the community's social capital, creating an opportunity for social networking to enable groups to request public services and pool together their resources as a cooperative/SACCO, so that they may access financial services to invest in economic opportunities, improving their livelihoods and welfare, and those of their children.

For more information, please contact:

Mozambique: Road rehabilitation to bring families closer to markets

In rural Mozambique, many smallholder farmers were prevented from selling their products to markets because of a lack of good access roads in remote rural areas. However, after the successful intervention of an IFAD project, families of farmers started to move their homes along a new road to become part of the new market created.

The IFAD-supported Programme for the Promotion of Rural Markets (Programa de Promoçao de Mercados Rurais-PROMER) is helping to improve farmers' access to markets, through the rehabilitation of feeder roads in 15 districts of the four northern Provinces where the programme is being implemented, namely Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Niassa and Zambezia. The main objective of the nine-year PROMER programme, which started in 2009, is to enable small-scale farmers to increase their income from agriculture by helping them to market their produce more profitably.



The road before the work © IFAD    

Many of the feeder roads in the project area had been neglected or suffered from poor maintenance. Farmers living in remote rural areas had to travel great distances, sometimes as much as 100 kilometres, to carry their produce to the market. They had extremely limited means of transport, which made it even more difficult for them to reach the market. To tackle this issue, the PROMER programme started to rehabilitate the access roads that needed the most urgent work. These roads are now giving renewed access to local markets. "The road rehabilitation is an important aspect of market access in our region," said Fernando Namucua, Administrator of the District of Alto Molocue. "We need them to better connect our farmers to their markets, otherwise they remain completely isolated."

Participatory selection process

The highly participatory process used to select the roads to be rehabilitated was also a success story in itself. Initially developed by the PAMA project, the IFAD-supported pilot project which led to the PROMER programme, this process aimed at being as objective and as inclusive as possible. Roads to be rehabilitated are defined by reference groups formed in all the 15 districts covered by the programme.



The road after the work © IFAD    

These reference groups include representatives of the local administration, farmers' associations, traders, and financial institutions as well as the service providers contracted by PROMER. "The reference group had to base its decision on the strict priority criteria we defined under the PROMER programme," explained Carla Honwana, coordinator of the PROMER programme in Maputo. For instance, the road had to be located in a highly populated area, with good potential for agricultural production. The road had to be connected to tertiary and secondary roads, giving them a better access to end markets. Its cost had to be within the programme's budget and the local authorities had to guarantee future maintenance. "Those were the conditions and points were allocated to each of the criteria. Those with the highest number of points would qualify," added Carla Honwana. As a result of the set criteria and the strong participation of local stakeholders, the choice of road was never questioned. "We thought the process was extremely fair and objective, "said Eusebia Maria Celestino, administrator of Ancaube District in the Cabo Delgado Province, "so much so that we considered using it for decision-taking in other sectors."

Once rehabilitated, the new roads, as well as the new bridges in some cases, transformed the area and substantially improved farmer life. In the Niassa Province, after the rehabilitation of the Nankhari-Muhemela road, farmers no longer had to travel 100 km to go to the market, but the distance was greatly reduced to only about 15 km. "We can go to the market more often now to sell our produce," said a farmer from the Ntheia association, which is greatly benefitting from the new road. The area is highly productive with great quantities of maize, beans, soya, sesame seeds as well as cotton. In 2013, after the new road was completed, the Ntheia association managed to sell a total of 15,000 kg of agricultural products, compared to 9,000 kg the year before. This amount included spot and contract sales but excluded cotton.

Furthermore, now that the road is completed, large trucks can access previously isolated areas to collect produce from the farmers' doorstep. "Spot markets even started to develop along the new road and more farmers associations have since been formed," said Mario Quissico, Market Intermediary Officer at PROMER. "The improvement is substantial, we can really see it along the road," he added, "farmers started to build new houses along the road to be closer to the market, and they can afford to buy bricks and a tin roof to do so." Those farmers can now read, write and count thanks to the literacy programme also introduced by PROMER and they are better informed about prices. They no longer have to sell their goods at discounted prices and can start generating an additional income which they are using to improve their livelihood.

For more information, please contact:

Uganda: Household Mentoring, a new methodology to tackle family issues

The Household Mentoring approach has the unique aspect of providing social transformation for the most vulnerable households by empowering them to make joint decisions as a family and tackle their challenges. So far, it has shown great improvement in family income, gender equality, as well as awareness of other programmes from which households can benefit.

Household Mentoring is an innovative approach to tackle rural poverty, which has been piloted in the IFAD-supported District Livelihoods Support Programme (DLSP) in Uganda. "We started implementing this approach with households who had serious issues to address; it has made a real difference in the way they view themselves, and therefore in the way they can find solutions to come out of poverty," explained Judith Ruko, a sociologist with the DLSP programme.



A member of Muwayo United Farmers' Group in Bugiri © IFAD    

The approach uses tools known as visioning and household mentoring to help vulnerable households. In visioning, the targeted household members are guided to develop a vision - a clear description of how they would like their households to be after exploring possible strategies to fight poverty. This visioning approach is implemented through the household mentoring approach, whereby a designated mentor sits together with all members of the family and helps them to develop a vision for the family, by identifying the issues impeding their development. The family looks back on their lives and then discusses what they can change to improve their livelihoods. Together with the mentor, they find solutions to foster the personal, social and economic growth of the household.

The idea came about in the 2009 programme re-design, to target the most vulnerable households. During the implementation of the project, it became apparent that some of the households benefiting from the project were unable to make progress because they believed they were not capable of it. "The programme contracted experts from Resource Projects Kenya in 2010 to develop a Household Mentoring Handbook which could work in our context, and that's how the household mentoring approach was born in Uganda," added Ruko.

Mentoring started a year later in 2011. A number of mentors were selected based on a number of criteria: they had to volunteer to do it, be respected in their community and be literate. Great attention was put on gender balance, with an equal split between women and men as mentors. "It was important to have that balance as a female-headed household would be more comfortable with a female mentor. In other cases, a male head of a household may not easily accept a woman mentor," explained Judith. Each mentor had 10 households to support, usually in the vicinity of their own house.

The families to be mentored are selected with the help of the district, sub County and village leaders and the community at large. They have to have some physical assets such as land they don't use, be very poor and unable to use what they have. "In that context, the role of the mentor is to build up their confidence and self-esteem, and make them understand that it is in their power to drive the change," explained Ruko, "they have to set a vision for themselves and where they want to go." The first priorities are house sanitation and hygiene (latrine and good hygiene practices), food security, and children nutrition and education.

The mentor's main role is to get the family to identify their own issues. In that role, he or she has to first build up a relationship of trust by visiting the household at least once a week, and making sure all the members are present, including the children.



Mr Chamwada with his two wives - Ruth (left) and Caroline (right) and their children. Their household is mentored by Olala © IFAD    

Olala Amunabi joined the mentoring programme in 2011, when she started mentoring James Chamwada, a father of 10 children, and his two wives, Ruth and Caroline who live in Iwemba Sub-County in Bugiri. "When I first visited the home in 2011, after it was identified by the community as one of households to receive support from the project, I found the family living in poor conditions. The home lacked sanitary facilities; the children had not been immunized and were not going to school. One of the children had a medical condition," said Olala. Chamwada's second born daughter suffers from a brain condition known as hydrocephalus.

Olala also found that Chamwada did not have any other source of income, besides the subsistence farming he was practicing. He was incurring losses because of poor timing of planting, delayed harvesting and other negative farming practices. When she began the mentoring process, she first talked to the household about the need to take the children to kindergarten, to build a latrine, to introduce better farming practices and family planning. She also referred them to the district hospital where their daughter started to receive medication.

A number of visual tools are used by mentors such as the Vision Journey, a method to express a family's objectives by using drawings and pictures. A sunshine represents the objectives a family wants to attain, a circle in the middle shows where the family is currently standing and a lower circle shows where the family was before the mentoring. A very rugged road links up the two circles and a smooth road from the present circle to the sunshine shows the road to be travelled to reach the objectives.



Some of the members of the Nambo (B) Agali awamu integrated association farmer group in Bugiri © IFAD    

Biribawa, a member of the Nambo 'B' Agali Awamu Integrated Association, is one of the farmers who benefited from the methodology. The married mother of nine children, aged between 12 and 27, seriously struggled to make a living and provide for her family. "I was a housewife. My husband had no formal employment and was a drunkard," said Biribawa. Five of her older children had dropped out of primary school, mainly because of lack of parental guidance. "We didn't see the value of education," she said. The four younger ones are now in school and one of them has even managed to sit for secondary school exams. She is in the process of building a three-bedroom brick house, next to the two huts where the family used to live. She is very proud of her new house.

Under DLSP, after a certain level of mentoring is reached which lasts between 12 and 24 months, the household is given a food security grant to ensure they have enough food and planting materials for the next season. Once they gain confidence, they join enterprise groups and begin to learn more about how to overcome poverty than if they had remained isolated. Through the approach, farmers have learnt to grow crops in a better way, to take care of livestock, and to have their children immunized. Mentors also give advice on how to plan together as a family and keep the proceeds from the crop sale to cover other needs such as school fees.

The Uganda's National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) is now keen to scale up household mentoring, while the IFAD-supported Vegetable Oil Development Project phase 2 (VODP2) has plans to use the household methodologies in the North and Eastern parts of the country with the oilseeds farmers. The household methodology has the unique aspect of taking the poorest people out of poverty by empowering them to make joint decisions as a family and tackle their challenges collectively.

For more information, please contact:

Tanzania: Gender empowerment for improved family farming

One of the biggest achievements of the IFAD-supported Agricultural Services Support Programme in Tanzania is the empowerment of women who previously believed they couldn't venture into new farming activities. Through the implementation of effective targeting strategies and training programmes, women have gained a new voice and the ability to express themselves with confidence. They can now articulate their priority needs. Furthermore, men and women farmers have recognized the importance of women's involvement in development activities.

The Zanzibar Sub-Programmes of Agricultural Services Support Programme (ASSP) and Agricultural Sector Development Programme-Livestock (ASDP-L) started in 2007 to improve food security and agricultural productivity, as well as increase farm income in line with the Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (ZSGRP). One of the instruments used for doing so was the Farmers Field Schools (FFS) and Livestock Farmer-Field Schools (LFS) which enabled farmers to learn by doing. Many women, keen to learn new agricultural techniques and technologies, joined the school and are now leading them. As a result, they have gained confidence in managing their activities, identifying their problems and articulating their demand. Also, their leadership skills have improved.



© IFAD/D.Magada    

Asha Hassan Khamis became a livestock keeper thanks to the LFS introduced in her area. Her perception of farming changed after her experience at the school. "In the past, I believed that women couldn't keep dairy cattle. Now that I received training from the LFS and from other livestock farmers, I am the proud owner of dairy cattle, something I did not expect in my life," she told. "I am getting 15 litres a day. I am selling milk and with the income, I buy food and clothes for the family and above all educate my children, have better health and build up savings." Furthermore, she now has available manure which she uses to fertilise her banana and vegetable farm. "I don't need to buy manure from my neighbours anymore, and I have much better yields," she explained. The increased use of farmyard manure has created a new source of income for livestock keepers who can sell it to vegetable farmers. "I now realise that women have a great role in development process."

Technical Support provided by the Livestock Programme

One of the strong components of the Livestock Programme's LFS is to provide technical support on poultry and other small stock, as well as delivering the appropriate technologies, practices, advice and information to meet farmers' needs.



A farmer and his family in Zanzibar © IFAD/D.Magada    

Farmers benefited from improved breeds of poultry, goats and dairy cattle, achieved mainly through the introduction of artificial insemination which resulted in a substantial productivity increase. In addition, because of the development of LFS, the number of farmers involved in livestock keeping increased considerably, as well as the percentage of livestock keepers using more proven technologies.

The programme also introduced Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) who helped improve farmers' access to extension and veterinary services. As a result, they were able to increase their productivity which in turn, had a significant impact on their family food sufficiency and cash income. Adoption of knowledge on livestock disease control has been instrumental to livestock development in Shehias, the area where Hassan Khamis lives.

With the experience they gained from the FFS, farmers are now forming their own groups to share their knowledge with other farmers outside the school and with those who did not join a school. The new knowledge is spreading fast and is reaching more farmers at a lower cost. In particular, livestock keepers have become better acquainted with basic livestock production practices especially in poultry, cattle and goat management. As a whole, the knowledge on improved crop and livestock technologies provided through training at FFSs and LFSs has gone beyond the borders of the FFSs/LFSs.

Beyond livestock keeping, women are turning into true entrepreneurs, investing in other business areas such as grain milling, tailoring and retail shop operations, using the extra funds generated through increased productivity and crop sales. They are now able to completely take charge of their life and their families'. Mashavu Mapuri, a farmer who has been appointed Secretary of the Farmers Fora, explained how her life and that of her fellow farmers has changed. "I feel empowered that I can defend the interests of farmers anywhere, give advice to my fellow farmers and link them with the District Authority and government institutions. We now have a true representation and a true voice." The Farmers Fora have managed to bring farmers together and further strengthen the smallholder's capacity to negotiate with the District and other institutions in areas of policy reform.

For more information, please contact:

Zambia: Support to farmers families living with HIV-AIDS

The Smallholder Agribusiness Promotion Programme (SAPP), supported by IFAD in Zambia, is a public-private endeavour to reduce rural poverty by stimulating rural economic development and driven by the transformation of small-scale producers into profitable family farmers. The programme targets small-scale farming households who are organised into enterprise groups or who have the potential to join groups that can be better linked to markets. The target group includes households who already devote part of their efforts to market-oriented production and who need assistance to improve their marketing operations, diversify their production and add value to it.




Members of the Batoka Area Women Association during a sensitisation meeting supported by SAPP in Choma District, Southern Province © IFAD/Karima Cherif    

Some of the households are seriously affected by issues such as HIV and AIDS, which can hinder their ability to develop successful market-oriented farming activities. SAPP has made attempts to streamline this kind of cross-cutting issues into its programming and interventions. For this purpose, it has targeted specific groups who are directly affected by the condition to mitigate the effects of HIV and AIDS. One such group is the Harmony women's club in Batoka area of the country's Southern Province.

Selection of the group

As part of the process, SAPP undertook a group identification exercise in selected districts in the Southern province, including Choma. The focus was on groups that were already involved in one-way or another in small livestock, mainly because the programme works with already existing groups to build on past achievements. Small livestock offers an opportunity to reduce poverty levels especially among women. It is an opportunity to generate additional income in rural areas and is not as demanding. In addition, markets are generally easily available contributing greatly to rural household incomes.

The Harmony Women's club was identified as a target group because its members were already involved in the rearing of small livestock and because they were known to live with HIV and AIDS. The Harmony Women's club is affiliated to the Batoka Area Women Association. Its goal is to improve the nutrition of its members by growing crops, particularly maize and vegetables, and rearing goats. It was founded in 2004 and has a membership of 23 women.

The SAPP project started interacting with the group in 2012, by providing training on governance and entrepreneurship, as well as support on production of goats to meet the market standards required in this commercial activity. In addition, the programme facilitated a group visit to a livestock market centre.

Steps toward empowerment

As part of the support provided, the Harmony group undertook awareness creation activities. A number of sensitization and awareness creation sessions were organised during which the Harmony group informed the project that while they were a functional group with 10 goats at the time, they were not benefitting much considering the welfare of the group. The group also indicated that nutrition was an important aspect considering the medication (anti-retroviral therapy-ART) some of their members were taking. The group generally felt that they needed to do better to attain their goal and that they needed to be better organized. For those reasons, they requested training in some elementary business and organisational skills.




Members of the Batoka Area Women Association during a sensitisation meeting supported by SAPP in Choma District, Southern Province © IFAD/Karima Cherif    

The group subsequently received training in entrepreneurship and governance. The training covered topics such as types and characteristics of entrepreneurs, vision setting, business planning, management of cooperatives and other related issues on governance. It was in the training sessions on entrepreneurship and governance that the point of management/poor husbandry practices was brought up. The other problem highlighted was the lack of access to improved breeds of goats. They made reference to boar goats that were from time-to-time available for sale at the nearby Golden Valley Research Trust.

The group consequently received some basic training on best-practices in goat farming as well as on producing according to market specifications. In particular, they focused on goat breeding, feeding, handling structures as well as goat housing and management practices including disease control.

The group has since applied for support from SAPP under the Programme's Matching Grant Facility to source-improved breed of goats that would fetch better prices in the market in Choma. The programme is currently at the stage of reviewing their business proposal. SAPP is confident that, with the funds they will soon receive through the Matching Grant Facility and with the business knowledge and technical know-how that they have acquired, the Harmony Women's Group will achieve its goal of improving nutrition and welfare of their members.

For more information, please contact: