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Posted on Nov 29, 12:20PM | IBNS
A three-year study of the ways small-scale farmers operate in Africa, Asia and Latin America has prompted calls for a major rethink of development and business interventions.
The IIED - Hivos project's final report - published Thursday - shows how mainstream efforts to make markets work for poor farmers in countries like India or Bolivia can fail to operate in tune with the ways such farmers themselves try to make their markets work.
"Contrary to the prevailing narrative, and what NGOs, policymakers and donors expect, interventions that aim to upgrade small-scale farmers into high-value, formal supply chains and modern markets tend to benefit only 2-10 per cent of farmers," says Bill Vorley, a principal researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and co-author of the report.
Vorley and his co-authors point out that most small-scale farmers combine farming with other activities and trade more in informal than formal markets - and rarely through cooperatives or producer organisations that can take advantage of connections with modern markets.
The report shows that rather than being a problem that needs to be fixed, informality can provide the space for small-scale farmers' agency, to find and build flexibility and resilience in a globalising world.
A central part of the study was managed by a network of farmer leaders, business people, researchers and civil society that spanned Central America, the Andes, East Africa, India and Indonesia. It was led from Bolivia by the Mainumby Ņakurutu Research Centre.
This learning network found that dynamic local, national and regional markets in developing nations give small-scale farmers options beyond those that high-value and modern global supply chains offer. Factors that encourage this include more buyers in the countryside looking for supply, increased trade between developing nations and a growth in urban markets.