The central role of agriculture in meeting many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has shaped CTA's activities over the course of 2016 and will continue to influence the organisation's operations into the future.
Agriculture not only has a vital role to play in achieving the objectives of SDG2 – to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition – but is also central to realising SDG1's aim to end extreme poverty. Additionally, the agricultural sector must facilitate work towards the goals targeting gender equality (SDG5), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), climate action (SDG13) and the sustainable use of land ecosystems. Moreover, agriculture is key to mitigating the urgent challenges of youth unemployment and large-scale migration in Africa and other developing regions.
However, subsistence agriculture, practised as a way of life for the majority of African farmers, will not succeed in meeting these challenges. There needs to be a transformation in the way agriculture is conceived so that the smallholder farmer is treated as a competitive business owner. Farms built on a modern and sustainable business model create value for smallholder producers, young men and women, and produce consistent yields of affordable, nutritious and healthy food. CTA's vision is for the agri-food systems in ACP countries to be built on efficient and competitive agri-businesses across the value-chain.
The articles in this annual review give a good flavour of CTA's interventions to help smallholder producers benefit from innovations in agribusiness, finance, ICTs, climate-smart agriculture, agro-tourism, communications and knowledge management. For instance, CTA's Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag Enabled Information Service (MUIIS) project – launched in October 2015 – has developed a bundle of agricultural information products, including weather alerts, agronomic tips and financial services, which Ugandan farmers can access through SMS and smartphone apps. The organisation has also continued to promote multi-stakeholder engagement in policy development through regular Brussels Development Briefings and in 2016 released a new multimedia pack highlighting the briefings' highlights from the last 8 years.
Looking forward, CTA will continue to focus on making agribusiness work for smallholders across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries – working with partners to boost entrepreneurship and youth employment.
Michael Hailu, CTA Director