While many people have made resolutions for 2018, eMKambo is devoting this brand New Year to questions that open doors, uncover solutions and spark positive change among farmers and other agricultural value chain actors in developing countries.
By CHARLES DHEWA
In our pursuit for tools and techniques to improve our practices, let us not forget that questions are the most powerful weapons in breaking down barriers, discovering hidden secrets, solving puzzles and imagining new ways of doing things.
The following is a sample of questions eMKambo will be assisting people and institutions to answer in 2018:
1. How do farmers and poor people turn setbacks into strengths?
2. How do some agricultural value chain actors stay exceptionally positive in difficult periods like drought?
3. Why should we demonstrate the cost of bad data to policy-makers and agricultural value chain actors?
4. How do we assist ordinary people to tell their stories?
5. Since marginal communities in developing countries do not have libraries and information repositories, is it possible that rural and poor people store knowledge in their DNA or genes?
6. Should we continue confusing financial inclusion with mobile money? While financial inclusion should be a principles-driven financial mindset, mobile money privileges the role of mobile technology in ways that confuse money with information when these are different resources.
7. How do we use informal markets to influence consumption habits and patterns? What was confirmed by eMKambo in 2017 is that power in the agriculture sector comes from controlling consumption, not from production or distribution. Controlling consumption is about controlling billions of individual consumers, most of whom are fond of choosing the easy option.
8. To what extent are structured value chains the only ideal way of organizing African agriculture?
There is an assumption that structured value chains like contract farming arrangements are the only viable options yet smallholder farmers and traders have been working efficiently and profitably in their own fluid and unstructured value chains for generations.
Moving beyond agribusiness frustrations in 2018
There is no doubt that many farmers and traders in diverse countries experienced frequent disappointments in the agriculture sector due to market failure and other issues.
However, asking and answering the right questions may enable them to move beyond frustrations in 2018.
The right questions are not just an expression of curiosity, which strengthens connection, nurtures humility and inspires peers.
They unlock access to large pools of data and trends that can inform decision making and improve day-today activities towards innovative growth in 2018 and beyond.
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