The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on West African governments to equip smallholder farmers with modern tools to help them migrate from subsistence to commercial farming.
Addressing a recent regional food security innovation summit in Nigeria, LCCI chairperson Onikepo Akande said throughout West Africa, smallholder farmers work hard to produce food, only to lose it because there is “so much that goes wrong from the field to the table”.
SUBSISTENCE FARMING DRAWBACK ON PRODUCTIVITY
Akande said subsistence farmers face serious problems that include a lack of equipment for land preparation, the use of poor quality seeds and seedlings, heavy dependence on non-mechanised manual labour and are often ill-informed and incapable of dealing with on-farm pests and diseases.
Further, subsistence farmers face post-harvest wastage and food loss due to the lack of product handling skills and the absence of efficient storage systems. As a result, they incur high rates of market failure due to the sale of poor quality agricultural commodities that bring low returns when compared to the time and effort invested.
RAISING THE STANDARDS
To raise the quality and standards of products, West African smallholder farmers need modern farm implements, access to improved seed and crop varieties, access to weather information, farm mechanisation support, storage facilities, dependable transport and access to finance and insurance.
“We must therefore bring efforts to bear on quality, standards and agricultural best practices on the field as well as global best practices post-harvest. These will help in the reduction of food wastage on-farm, reduction of post-harvest food wastage and quality assurance of products long after the harvesting,” Akande said.
The bulk of West African trade in agricultural commodities is difficult to quantify and regulate because it happens informally and without quality control systems or records that can be used to build official databases.
Nigeria to establish world-class laboratory to test agricultural exports
Attracting investment – the challenge for Africa’s smallholder farmers
Using airtight bags to prevent post-harvest crop loss