“Making the Connection: Value Chains for Transforming Smallholder Agriculture,” an international conference on the future of agricultural value chains and how to incorporate smallholders in them to promote agricultural and rural development, was held in Addis Ababa.
The conference was attended by invited guests from 70 countries and organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and the European Union (EU).
“Value chains can play a vital role in such a transformation. Improved linkages between farmers and buyers can ensure that farmers tailor their production to meet the demands of the market, rather than simply hope that they can find a market,” said Michael Hailu, director of CTA.
“The conference is being held here because some of the successful case studies of value chain development are in Ethiopia. We have made a field trip to the outskirts of Addis Ababa to discuss with farmers who export their products and learn from their experience,” Michael informed Capital.
“Our mission is to help developing countries to improve agricultural production and provide access to markets through capacity building, information sharing and learning from other people’s experience,” he added.
The main aim is to bring all these different groups together to share their experiences in developing value chains that allow smallholder farmers to be active partners in the market.
“You have a whole chain that help farmers improve the quality of their produce, so that they have guaranteed markets; people who make sure that farmers produce what is needed and that their produce will be sold and also help them get the credit they need in advance so that they can get improved seeds, fertilizers and other inputs to improve their overall productivity. They make sure that the produce can be processed, both for local as well as international markets,” he said.
The Ethiopian born director, who took up the post two and a half years ago, said that in the strategic plan for 2011-2015, CTA has identified value chains as one of the three key priority areas of its focus.
“Facilitating multi-stakeholder engagement and exchange of knowledge and experiences among farmer’s groups, policy makers, researchers, agribusiness, universities and others is the key in ensuring that smallholder farmers can be integrated into the whole value chain,” said Michael.
The participants have made around 12 field trips, in different areas within a 100 km radius of Addis. “Different projects around the Nazareth area, Debre Zeit and even some within Addis, where there are value chains, related to work, the cultivation of teff, green beans have been visited by the participants,” the director explained, in his exclusive interview with Capital.
The CTA’s mission, for the past 25 years, has been to advance food and nutritional security, increase prosperity, and encourage sound natural resource management in ACP countries. It provides access to information, facilitates policy dialogue, and strengthens the capacity of agricultural and rural development institutions and communities.