eDialogue Vlogs

The vlog library below is a continuing open resource for the eDialogue series. They are intended to communicate the local and regional realities of small-scale food production and implications for the future.

We welcome more vlog submissions. Please contact  Jakob Hambüchen at jakob.hambuchen@wur.nl for more information.

Esther Mugi, Ph. D. Researcher at Wageningen University

Esther Mugi describes the potential of intercropping, especially for young farmers in Tanzania.

Intercropping achieves a high land use ratio and allows planting cash crops (legumes) and food crops (maise) on the same field. For the legumes, pigeon pea and lablab, ready international markets enable a regular income. This is especially attractive for young people who face challenges of land ownership and tenure because of low capital or family status.

Dennis Ochola, Ph. D. Researcher at Wageningen University

Dennis Ochala explains that smallholders are not attracted by singular blanket advises anymore but by baskets of multiple farming options. Farmers prefer to choose context-specific options that enable them to utilise their resources at best.

Furthermore, he describes the potential of ready and eager young people in Uganda who can work along the value chain of agricultural production. Jobs are available for people of all levels of education. The main challenge, however, is the issue of land ownership. Younger sons and daughters do not inherit any land and lack the capital to acquire sufficient land. Thus, many young people work as transporters of rural goods to markets.


Neo Mathinya, Ph. D. Researcher at Wageningen University

Neo Mathinya shows by reference to her family’s farm that smallholder farming in South Africa often is a secondary business opportunity. Anyway, sustainable intensification is needed to make agriculture a valuable business for smallholders. Through sustainable intensification, not only the farms would benefit but also the local infrastructure, which eventually contributes to the general development of rural areas. As the main challenges, she notes the climate change and the continuing decrease of soil fertility. Additionally, she mentioned that there is a lack of adoption of practices after projects end.

Ken Giller, Professor at Wageningen University

Ken Giller reflects on the role of smallholder farming in the Netherlands in the past. Currently, these farms mostly are managed as a hobby. In the past, they functioned as side businesses. Nevertheless, the industrialisation caused rural migration and farm size increased to exploit the economy of scale. Then he raises the question if we can learn from history and project it onto the future of small scale farming in developing countries.

Tamiru Amanu Abetu, Ph. D. Researcher at Wageningen University

Tamriu Amanu Abetu says that farm sizes are decreasing in the rural areas due to population growth and low capital of young farmers. Additionally, the limited access to inputs, supporting products and services promote food insecurity. Service bundles could tackle this issue. Thereby, jobs for young people could be created in the agriculture sector and eventually increase the attractivity of farming.

Jonathan Mugabe, Farmer and Youth Representative

Jonathan Mugabe describes his opportunities and challenges as a smallholder. Through financial support, he was able to build proper housing and thereby diversified his income. Nevertheless, land ownership constraints limit his farming capacities to grow sufficient cash crops (bananas). Young people need more training to utilise their resources and more capital to buy more land. Nowadays, many young people are still stuck only doing transport services without a perspective.

Kofi Takyi Asante, APRA Researcher

Kofi Takyi Asante explains that with the help of developing projects that subsidies seed, chemical inputs and infrastructure, farmers can increase their productivity. Furthermore, working for larger processors, e.g. of the palm oil industry, create a stable demand and price. Nevertheless, up to date, a weak infrastructure causes high production costs and post-harvest losses in Ghana. Poverty and the resulting lack of collateral amplify the problem.

Hannington Odame, APRA Regional Hub Coordinator

Hannington Odame, emphasises that the whole value chain in Kenia is still poorly organised. This affects access to seeds, chemical inputs, mechanisation, and extension services. Making use of this potential could triple the yield. Additionally, post-harvest issues like losses due to missing storing capacities and fluctuating prices make farming an unattractive business. Hence, it is important to link scientific knowledge and outcomes to smallholder practices.

Steve Wiggins, Principle Research Fellow at ODI

Steve Wiggins reflects on the results of multiple longitudinal studies. Smallholders tend to transform their farm at least partially to cash crop production as these are more valuable than food crops. Nevertheless, farmers only partially use their available inputs. Hence, their productivity is not optimised. This is based on risk-averse behaviour due to periodically cash conflicts within the household. Cash intensive periods of farming and or for example, schooling often overlap. Social protection is needed to decrease the risk of living and the farming business.

Audax Rukonge, Executive Director at ANSAF

Audax Rukonge said that young people are a huge potential to work as entrepreneurs, producers, product developers and service providers. In Tanzania, a lot of producers demand agricultural products and create thereby a potent and ready market. Nevertheless, the infrastructure and policies are often counterproductive for small business owners and also increase farming costs. Furthermore, the ongoing pandemic reduces the potential of local markets because of social distancing practices.

Adeola Olajide, APRA Researcher

Adeola Olajide tells us about the overarching problems affecting cocoa farmers in Nigeria. Civil war, dangerous and insecure primary businesses like mining and a poor infrastructure interfere with farming. Furthermore, the dependency on global markets makes the business also very risky. She suggests creating local processing businesses that produce products for their consumption.

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Connetie Ayesiga, Ph. D. Researcher at Wageningen University

Connetie Ayesiga from Uganda explains that the majority (85 %) of Uganda’s population works in agriculture. The good climate conditions allow the farmers to grow in two seasons per year. At least one family member has access to land and creates jobs in agriculture. Official funds support access to inputs and capital to increase the livelihoods of smallholders. However, this is often not enough for young people to have collateral. Furthermore, young people are not fully attracted to agriculture yet as they prefer quick earnings.

Angela Kiamba, Agricultural adviser

Angela Kiamba mentions that young people lack information and funds to engage in agriculture. Anyway, through investment and motivation, young people can create a high potential industry in Kenia.

David Mutinda, Agronomist and community development practitioner

David Mutinda raises awareness for the low seedling quality of smallholders. Organisations need to step in and support seedling farms. This can create jobs for young people who want to work in agriculture.

Fredrick Munyao, Farmer and agricultural advisor

Fredrick Munyao emphasises the issue of land ownership and tenure for young people as well. Anyway, the youth’s understanding of technology and digitalisation has a high potential for inducing change.


Most Vloggers agreed that the young generation and their willingness to work are the most significant opportunity for the future of smallholder farming. They could potentially get engaged in the supporting industries of agriculture or along the value chain.

Anyway, therefore these most frequently mentioned challenges of smallholder need to be overcome:

  • Land ownership and land tenure constraints
  • Insufficient training
  • Weak infrastructure and missing policies
  • Missing capital of young people