Editor's Note [Volume 23 No. 2 (2023)]



What do they need? What do they have to offer? How can we help them to nourish their families and improve their livelihoods?

As I travel through western Kenya where we work with smallholder farmers, and during my visit to Uganda's north with farmers operating at the very bottom of the pyramid, I see them express themselves, that climate change is here with us, and in a very profound manner.

For the first time I hear farmers explain the impact of climate change on productivity. But then they do not just stop there. They go further and try to innovate. They innovate by trying to determine the best time to plant, by preparing the seed in a particular way before planting, and by devising different ways to keep the soils moist for the plant growth.

The farmers now talk of how they can sustain food security for their families throughout the year. They start with the quality of the soils, and how it can no longer be taken for granted; it has to be nurtured. They then move on to the size of their land and what they can do to ensure enough food production. If they decide they need more land, then they look for some to lease, even as a farmers’ group. They realize the importance of belonging to some kind of a cooperative or group mostly to minimize risk.

Also as a group, it is easier to purchase inputs in bulk and at more affordable prices, and it is also cheaper to hire tractor, transport or other services. Again as a group they can get training to diversify their farming to grow high value crops not just for the markets but for their families’ nutrition as well. Smallholder farmers can and should be able to improve their livelihoods from farming. But even as they do all this, what impact does it have at the family level? They proudly share how their standard of living has improved: they feed better and, therefore, better nutrition is evident, they feel better and therefore dress better, their housing has improved and one can see it, and they improve their mode of transport.

The smallholder farmers I come across where I travel is enthusiastic about getting knowledge to improve the quality of life of their families. They are able to educate their children. Our responsibility as development professionals is to learn to listen keenly and be prepared to give the farmers s listening ear and together agree on areas of collaboration. That way we can contribute meaningfully to community transformation and improvement of lives.

Who says only we scientists can innovate? I see a lot of innovations in the rural areas and this is both humbling and commendable. And as always, the women farmers are at the forefront, and they need our total attention and support.

Ruth Khasaya Oniang'o
Editor-in-Chief, AJFAND
ORCID: 0009-0005-8344-9093