The European Commission is keen to promote equal power relations between smallholder farmers and the private sector in developing countries, according to director for sustainable growth and development Kristian Schmidt.
Mr. Schmidt made the comments at the high-level panel Small Farmers, Big Business? Engaging the Private Sector in Sustainable Agricultural Development which was held this week as part of the 2012 European Development Days event in Brussels.
Panelists at the Small Farmers, Big Business event
Mr. Schmidt said agriculture would be high on the European Commission’s agenda in coming years, including efforts to make it easier for African producers to access European markets.
“We agree that the private sector needs to play a strong role here,” Mr. Schmidt said. “We will make sure with our support to African farmers associations that there is an equal power relationship between the private sector and farmers.”
The Small Farmers, Big Business panel was organised by SNV together with GIZ, the Practitioners’ Network for European Development Cooperation, COLEACP and UNIDO. In the panel discussion SNV and its partners called for improved market access for smallholder farmers.
“Creating business value and societal value go hand in hand”, Frank van Ooijen, director for Sustainability at dairy multinational FrieslandCampina, stated during the panel.
Rashid Mamu, director of Nyemo Investment, a medium-sized oilseeds producer in Tanzania underlined the importance of capacity building support from organisations such as SNV in sector development.
“With the support of SNV we have been able to lobby our government, who has now acknowledged the oil seeds sector as a priority commodity in Tanzania,” Mr. Mamu said.
Besides agricultural practitioners from the field, representatives from donor organisations and the private sector also joined the debate on how to increase private sector involvement in the food and agriculture sector. Lead participants included representatives of the European Commission, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supermarket chain METRO and insurance company Allianz AG.
For more on the event, including a recording of the full panel discussion, visit www.smallfarmersbigbusiness.org.