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Small-holder farmers in spotlight as Africa fights poverty, hunger 

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Delegates attending an African regional forum in Rwanda’s capital Kigali have advocated for improved livelihood and incomes of small-holder farmers across Africa.

The three-day conference that concluded on Wednesday recommended African governments and development partners to renew and strengthen efforts to support millions of vulnerable small-holder farmers on the continent to improve and diversify their food production.

“Small-holder farmers are the most vulnerable when it comes to poverty, hunger and starvation as they are ill-equipped with knowledge and skills to improve their agricultural practices for increased crop production,” said Jean-Marc Faures, senior program officer for coordination of sustainable food and agriculture with Food Agriculture Organization (FAO).

He added that improving the livelihood of small-holder farmers is one of the five goals of the Zero Hunger Challenge, a United Nations program that calls on both public and private institutions to scale up efforts to achieve 100-percent access to adequate food all year round.

According to Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwandan minister of agriculture, improving farming methods of small-holder farmers should be put at the center of the country’s growing economy.

“Rwanda has been investing in key programs along the food value chains to increase farm productivity and incomes for the poor communities while safeguarding the environment,” she said.

At the meeting, agriculturalists argued that hunger and poverty in Africa can be eliminated if African economies create better opportunities for farmers and focus on the needs of small-holder farmers.

FAO estimates that 233 million people in Africa were hungry and undernourished in 2014.

According to the World Bank, there are an estimated 500 million small-holder households globally, amounting to more than 2 billion people.

Most small-scale farmers cultivate less than 5 acres and make up a significant portion of the world’s poor population, who live on less than 2 U.S. dollars a day.

Jamie Morrison, senior economist in the Trade and Markets Division at FAO, said that improving the lives of small-holder farmers should be a priority in efforts to end global poverty.

“Transforming the lives of small-holder farmers requires enhancing their farming skills in agribusiness and post-harvest management, value addition and marketing,” he said.

The meeting, organized by FAO, was aimed at discussing how the principles for sustainable food and agriculture can promote joint action to strengthen the contribution of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to sustainable development. 



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