In the course of our daily life, we often make decisions that have farther-reaching impacts than we realise. Take for instance your weekly trip to the market to restock fresh vegetables or your quick stop at the supermarket after work to buy eggs or milk for breakfast the next morning. These seemingly simple actions connect us to various smallholder farmers whose livelihoods depend on these actions that we take for granted.
Every day across Africa tonnes of agricultural produce are being bought and sold, and if there are any breaks in the supply chain, homes, businesses and individuals are impacted drastically. This goes to show just how much value the millions of smallholder farmers across the continent provide. The sad part about this is that a large percentage of these farmers do not get to benefit financially from these activities. Due to the fact that most of these farmers sell their products to brokers and middlemen at cheap prices, their profit margins are low. The vast majority of smallholder farmers live in poverty and struggle daily to make ends meet, however, research has shown that growth from agriculture is 11% more likely to reduce poverty than any other sector which is why it is important for us as individuals, organizations and governments to make the effort to become more conscious of the decisions we make around agriculture.
Before joining Coamana, I had never taken the time to reflect on these strings that connect me and my actions to the average smallholder farmer. For me, buying a fresh basket of tomatoes meant simply that and not how much time and effort went into how the basket of tomatoes came to be, and “market linkages” meant absolutely nothing to me. Smallholder farmers across Africa need access to agricultural education, improved input and technological support in order to ensure that they are able to continue to support us. Companies like Coamana have taken the much-needed step to strengthen and advance how smallholder farmers access markets, however, we realize that it indeed takes a village.
My hope for you reader is that our journey and our stories are able to make you a more conscious buyer and you are able to understand and appreciate the role smallholder farmers play in supporting and improving each of our lives.