Agriculture & rural development

Agriculture and rural development are essential to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by half by 2015 (MDG 1).

Three in four poor people in developing countries live on the countryside. Most of them depend directly or indirectly from agriculture to survive. Women play an important role in food production, in food processing and in the commercialisation of food. Agricultural development can make a difference in the lives of a billion of poor people, mainly of women, and can contribute to both economic growth and to poverty reduction and food security.

Climate change will have a far-reaching impact on agriculture and mainly hit the poor. There is an urgent need for measures to reduce the impact on crop yields. On the other hand, agriculture also has a huge potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the right agricultural practices are used.

In its projects and activities BTC keeps several aspects in mind.

Higher productivity and sustainability

Invest in small-scale irrigation and good water management, strengthen systems so small producers gain access to better seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, introduce small-stock farming to the production systems…
These are a few of the actions that BTC supports and that contribute to higher crop yields and better revenue.
Improving access of small producers to know-how and innovation remains an important challenge. The big pressure on natural resources (land and water) asks for better and more sustainable techniques. For instance, in Rwanda and Burundi BTC develops efficient research and vulgarisation services.

Better market access

With the right support small producers can become efficient and reliable suppliers for local markets and cities, and even for new global markets. Investing in small processing businesses, which add value, can increase the revenues of the poor on the countryside. BTC supports several actors who help improve the market position of small producers, such as farmer organisations, rural financing institutes and service centres. It is important that civil society, the private sector and the government closely work together.

Capacity development and better governance

The role of the state in agriculture is changing quickly, while the private sector and civil society are gaining in importance. BTC supports agriculture ministries and institutions at the national and local level in formulating and implementing participative policy processes, and in regulation and coordination. Civil society and the private sector must be involved in agricultural policy. Not just the coordination between the private sector, civil society and the government are important, but also the coordination between the different ministries that play a role in agriculture and rural development, such as the ministries of commerce, of the environment, of economy...

Also local authorities, which because of decentralisation become more important in creating an advantageous climate for local economic development and agriculture, are supported in their role.

Finally, also producer organisations are strengthened, among other things in their role of service providers and consultants for their members and in the management of economic infrastructure, such as irrigation networks and warehouses.