According to the FAO, growth from agriculture (in sub-Saharan Africa) is 11 times more effective at reducing extreme poverty than that from any other sector. However, this same region has 25% of the world’s arable land but only produces 10% of the world’s agricultural output. 80% of the land in the region is farmed by small family farmers. These statistics, when combined, make smallholder farming an incredibly potent vehicle for delivering positive impact in respect of food security, economic upliftment and - if regenerative agriculture principles are incorporated - climate resilience and carbon sequestration. Signature’s focus on including women into these programmes can springload their impact potential even further1.
At Pandagric farm in Nigeria, the smallholder programme is only in its second year but around 200 members of the communities surrounding the farm are registered and growing maize, including ~25% women. Through partnerships co-ordinated by the farm management team, farmers are provided with quality inputs and training, and the costs are deducted from the price paid for the maize at the end of the season, ensuring that the programme is self-sustaining. To accelerate their success, the farm donates ~50ha of land clearing services each year. All maize produced by the small growers is guaranteed an offtake at market price by the farm, who use it as feedstock for the mill. The small farmers in the area have traditionally grown maize, but the programme’s interventions have allowed them to triple or quadruple their yield and make a substantial difference to their annual income. The Pandagric team plan to grow the scheme to 10,000 farmers within the next 6 years and are aiming for a 40% ratio of women farmers.
In Malawi, the Jacoma macadamia farm management team has established a mature programme which provides support to nearly 6,000 small growers, 54% of whom are women. Thanks to effective co-operation with several development organisations, the communities are supplied with bulk water storage and irrigation. Community members can grow the crops of their choice, but largely choose to cultivate chili and paprika, for which there is a guaranteed offtake by Jacoma. Most of the chili is sold to a blue chip grocery chain, who pay a premium in return for the traceability and development aspects of the product. There are also macadamia farmers within the communities, who are supplied with young trees from the Jacoma nursery and guaranteed an offtake for their products.