Higher income for small farmers in Africa
Over 70 per cent of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. For that reason, measures to help small farmers to achieve higher incomes are particular important for economic development in Africa.
The Farmer Business Schools (FBS) aim to teach farmers business skills. Since 2010, over 800,000 small farmers in Africa have undergone training in a broad range of business topics, including financial management, loans, saving, and the food industry. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH developed the FBS concept on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The European Union and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provide part of the financing for the training.
The FBS were originally developed for cocoa farmers in West and Central Africa. Due to their success there - it is estimated that the participating small farmers saw their income rise by 12.5 million euros - GIZ has been expanding them, both geographically and in terms of content. In addition to cocoa, curricula have now been developed for 13 other crops including rice, cashew nuts and cotton.
There are Farmer Business Schools in 15 countries across Africa. They complement a number of GIZ services designed to support small farmers, for example training on farming practices. The reasoning is that a more in-depth understanding of business decisions will increase farmers’ acceptance of better or new cultivation practices. As a result of the training, the cotton farmers who took part - around 240,000 to date - were able to boost their earnings by a third on average. One of them is Peter Sipalo Lubinda from Zambia: ‘I learnt from the Farmer Business Schools to think like a businessman, which means I am now able to earn money from farming.’