The portal is designed to ensure inclusive policy design and implementation in the agriculture sector.
The dialogue was moderated by ACET Senior Advisor Rob Floyd who said: “We know how important the agriculture sector is to Africa, but we also know how difficult it can sometimes be for the voices of smallholder farmers to be heard. A theme coming out of the case studies ACET has curated for the portal is the need for government, farmer organisations and farmers themselves to move from short-term, issues-based dialogues to more embedded, long-term and ongoing engagement.”
The panel members for the dialogue panel were Prof. Ramatu Mahama Al-Hassan, Agricultural Development Economist and former Lecturer at the University of Ghana; Kwesi Abaka-Quansah, Assistant Director, Directorate of Extension Services, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana; and Dr. Adiel Mbabu, former Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, International Potato Center.
Other participants included Benjamin Kojo Fiafor, Country Director, Ghana and Nigeria, Farm Radio International; Anthony Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness; and Michael Nyarko Ampem, President, Greater Accra Poultry Framers Association.
The lively discussion centered on challenges of reflecting smallholder voices in policy and highlighted several prerequisites for achieving this. These included the need for policy makers to demand evidence to back policy formulation and for researchers to provide credible, timely data with policy options to policy makers.
“The smallholder voices portal will be a valuable channel for researchers to create awareness about ongoing research and to disseminate their research findings… It can also be a channel for advocates to express their research needs,” stated Prof. Al-Hassan.
Drawing from her involvement in the Poverty and Social Impact Assessment undertaken by the Government of Ghana for small holder farmers, Prof Al-Hassan reiterated the need to consult farmers on policy design and elevate participation of particularly, women farmers and traders.
The Smallholder Voices Portal is the culmination of an ACET initiative carried out under Global Scan, a component of the “Smallholder Voices in Policy Dialogue” project sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, which seeks to impact policy for a more inclusive and transformational agriculture sector.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) estimates there are around 33 million smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa, representing 80% of all farms in the region, and contributing up to 90 percent of food production in some sub-Saharan African countries. It is therefore key that the voices of these smallholder farmers are represented in policy making.
The Smallholder Voices Portal will provide a virtual platform for capturing high-impact policies and approaches that can then be used to foster greater national policy dialogue between government officials and smallholder representatives.