African small-scale farmers use radio and mobile phones to send message of optimism and caution to world leaders attending Food

– Small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are impacted disproportionately by climate change, poverty and undernutrition, yet a report released today shows many remain optimistic about the future of farming. Of the thousands of farmers taking part in the four-country survey, two-thirds believe their children can succeed in farming, though many cautioned that food systems will need to change in order to make living incomes possible.

On Air Dialogues: Listening to Rural People, released today by Farm Radio International (FRI), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Vision Canada, and the Canadian Food Security Policy Group (FSPG), includes data gathered over three weeks in June 2021 by six radio stations in four African countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda). Thanks to interactive radio shows and innovative mobile phone polling, farmers were able to directly voice their concerns and share their proposed solutions when it comes to global food systems. In response, 3,494 participants left 11,854 answers and 2,648 audio messages.

Today’s release is timed to bring the voices of rural small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to the UN Food System Summit on 23 September – an event that includes global leaders, scientists, academics, policy advisors and UN officials – but few of the world’s poorest food producers.

“There’s growing global recognition that solutions can only be sustainable and relevant if they reflect people’s local realities and experiences. But leaders often struggle with how to access the opinions of people, especially in remote areas. Radio, combined with new technologies, is a powerful tool that is too often overlooked,” said Hélène Papper, IFAD spokesperson. “With direct input from so many rural farmers, we now have greater insight into their challenges, and how we can support their strong desire to stay in their communities and build a future for their families in agriculture. These are the voices that global leaders gathering for this week’s Food Systems Summit need to hear, and act upon.”

“Small-scale farmers working on plots less than two hectares produce over 30 percent of global food and yet there are significant barriers to their participation in global discussions and decision-making processes,” said Kevin Perkins, FRI spokesperson. “This report helps change that. Our goal was to create a platform for rural people, especially women and youth, to share their concerns and solutions for a healthier, more sustainable, productive, and equitable food system.”

Oscar, a small-scale farmer from Tanzania was among those who took part in the survey. His comment points to one of the many inequities that exist across food systems. “Our crops are bought at a very low price,” he said. “The businessmen and middlemen buy our crops at their prices and not at farmers’ prices.”

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