This was the topic for discussion this week over at Business Fights Poverty following an event hosted at Citi Bank in London on Monday 11 Feb 2013.
What was interesting for me is the discussions on development are changing in the sense that development folk appreciate that issues of development cannot be addressed in isolation.
In particular Dougie Brew from Unilever acknowledged the fact that Unilever is best at Business and will not be drawn into providing social services as someone else is best placed to provide these. I didn’t take this to mean that Unilever do not care about the welfare of the communities within which they work, instead that Unilever recognises the fact that their skills set isn’t best placed to deliver social services.
The key message during the evening was that, the picture in the field is more of a mosaic where various entities, individuals, governments etc come together to bring about results that impact development. In my view this is an important development, we need focus our efforts and resources on collaborative or multilateral working for greater impact.
Back to the question of financing for smallholder farmers, one of the biggest huddles they face is landownership, or rather the failure to prove that they own the land they farm. This in turn means that they have no security as the land can be ceased, in turn they cannot use the land as collateral to asking cheap funding at the banks. The banks in turn cannot take risks upon farmers. I met one such farmer in Masindi NW Uganda and in this post he told me about the reality of their situation
Other challenges faced by smallholder farmers are to do with climate change, fires due to very hot weather and mudslides due to heavy rains have become common occurrences, Smallholder are hardly equipped to deal with such events.
The message from the meeting was clear, money is important to enable farmers to scale their enterprises but it isn’t the be all!
The issues that face smallholder farmers looking to join value chains are complex and need all of our collective efforts, skills and resources.
We will continue this conversation in Kampala on 2/3/13 join us there if you can