The uptake of technology could assist smallholders in increasing production, and governments needed to invest in technologies that could boost smallholder production.
This was according to Paul Winters, officer-in-charge of the Strategy and Knowledge Department, and director of the Research and Impact Assessment Division, at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Winters was speaking at the recent launch of the Rural Development Report 2016 in Pretoria.
Winters said that in some regions of Nigeria, the adoption of technology by smallholders had resulted in an increase in dairy cows’ milk yields from 4ℓ/day to 12ℓ/day. He added that increased production resulted in more taxes derived from rural communities, and that smallholders would be better able to repay their debts to lending institutions.
Winters also said that private sector investment was important to assist with technology uptake, and that access to respective value chains was crucial.
According to the Rural Development report, small family farms dominated rural landscapes across the developing world, accounting for up to 80% of food produced in sub-Saharan Africa, while also supporting the livelihoods of up to 2,5 billion people worldwide. These farms, however, faced long-standing barriers to accessing technology.
“Even when productivity-increasing technology appears, it is adopted and used at widely varying rates. For instance, adoption of improved seed is much higher than that of fertiliser, even though full returns to the former require application of the latter.
Promising innovations, such as conservation farming, that build robustness into clusters of technologies through integrated systems are spreading, but slowly,” the report said.
Innovative approaches to technology development and dissemination, such as information and communications technology, could help smallholders adopt technology. However, the effectiveness of such approaches needed to continue to be carefully evaluated, the report said.