Smallholder Farmers Critical to Ensuring Food Security in Africa

gefIn response to the growing pressure to transform African agriculture through intensification with high inputs and high yielding varieties that will likely undermine sustainability of the natural capital, the Global Environment Facility launched an innovative $106.5 million pilot program for fostering sustainability and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. By integrating environmental priorities at scale, the program entitled Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa will enable smallholder farmers in the dryland regions of Sub-Saharan Africa ensure the sustainability and resilience of production systems.

“Sustainability of the natural capital — land, water, soil, trees, and genetic resources — that underpins food and nutrition security, must be ensured by bridging the gap between traditional and modern farming practices. Smallholder agriculture, which accounts for more than 70 percent of agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa, can benefit from a holistic approach to management of natural capital.” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson.

Twelve Africa dryland countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Uganda) will participate in the program. These dryland regions face the greatest threat of environmental degradation in smallholder farms, and are therefore well placed to harness good practices for sustainability and resilience such as soil and water conservation, diversification of farmlands, and integrated management of crops and livestock. GEF financing for the program will be driven by the priorities of the participating countries, primarily in the context of baseline investments addressing the needs of smallholder farmers.

The program will enable creation or strengthening of institutional frameworks to promote integrated approaches in smallholder agriculture; promote scaling-up of interventions for sustainability and resilience; and ensure effective monitoring of ecosystem services and global environmental benefits through application of innovative tools and practices.

Council member from Kenya, Mr. Richard Lerisien Lesiyampe strongly endorsed GEF’s integrated programmatic approach and innovative thinking. “The whole world must develop a framework for food security”, he said “This working program is so significant it will go into the annals of the GEF.”

The total GEF financing of $106.5 million will be supplemented by $805.36 million co-financed from the governments, development agencies, foundations, international organizations, and the private sector. IFAD is the lead GEF agency for the program, and seven other GEF Agencies (CI, FAO, IFAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, and World Bank) will support the individual country projects.


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