East African smallholder farmers must rely on savings from their low incomes to increase their farms’ yields. This is largely due to their lack of access to credit, which requires collateral and loan histories, requirements that are far removed from these farmers’ financial realities. Thus they are left at the mercy of friends and relatives to provide them with small loans.
Farmers and millers brought together by the Farmers' Integration into Regional Markets through Structured Trade (Farm-Trade) project meeting showcased two samples of maize, packaged in clear plastic bags on a table. The first sample was an unpleasant mixture of broken and rotten grains of different maize varieties mixed with hints of soil, fiber, and kernel. A small handwritten note stuck on the bag read “For Millers.” The more impressive second sample contained white, well-dried, and matured grain, uniform in size, shape and color, and it was not to be sold to millers.
Omary’s income in 2009 was US$165, less than a dollar a day. He was better off than most small-scaled farmers in Morogoro, though. He planted maize on 2-3 acres of land, using indigenous grain acquired from friends and family. He had never thought of using fertilizer on his land. Omary was not sure about his farm’s yield.
Low quality seed, lack of fertilizers, lack of farm inputs, and poor agronomic practices have all led to low yields from East African farms. Although small-scale farmers in East Africa produce the bulk of the food that finds its way into the region’s markets, these farmers produce an average yield of only 1 MT per acre. They incur additional losses through poor agronomic practices like insufficient drying, improper threshing, and poor storage and packaging
Last updated: April 28, 2016