IGP Stories

Expanding the role of African farmers

PROCOL Kenya Climate Emergency Africa

Dr Sam Lunn-Rockliffe

20 January 2022

85% of agricultural output across Africa is produced by small-holders. What do they need to simultaneously maintain ecological balance and sustain a continent?

The need to rethink innovation in relation to agriculture is imperative. Approximately 85% of total agricultural output across the African continent is produced by small-holder farmers, yet there remains a persistent imagining of African farming practices as static, inefficient and vulnerable.

These ideas have in turn supported a modernising agenda whereby African agriculture is repeatedly required to undergo wholesale re-design to accommodate a host of technical inputs, market infrastructures and industrial farming practices. With concerns surrounding continued climate change and associated challenges of food security, calls to increase technological innovation and commercial infrastructures are becoming ever stronger.

Over the past year, the Institute for Global Prosperity has been co-ordinating a programme called ‘Prosperity and Innovation in the Past and Future of Farming in Africa’ (PIPFA): a partnership network with the University of Eldoret, Elgeyo-Marakwet County Government and the East African Herbarium, the UN Environment Programme, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Pesticide Action Network UK.

Forming a dynamic team of citizens, academics, scientists and policy makers, this partnership aims to reframe how we empower smallholder farmers in Eastern Africa. By drawing upon original empirical research in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Kenya, we have been exploring how to reconceptualise the role of farmers as the drivers of agronomic innovation.

Read the full article in the Bartlett Annual Review

Image credit: Sam Lunn-Rockliffe

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