What farmers want: collective capacity for sustainable entrepreneurship. uri icon

abstract

  • Expanding equitable access to product markets for millions of poor farmers is of critical importance to the development of sustainable rural livelihoods in developing countries. This paper addresses the question of how to improve strategies for improving their capacity to access dynamic markets on a large scale. Skill formation receives little attention in the current debate about how to overcome wealth-differentiated barriers to market entry in poor rural societies. Public investment in skill development for the rural poor fails to meet actual livelihood skill needs. By using a methodology to study farmer groups in three countries that built theory "from the bottom up," this paper's research identified an unmet, grass-roots demand in farmer groups for combining five skill sets that in combination, represent capacity for sustainable entrepreneurship. Not only is the demand for a broader approach to capacity development emerging out of groups of poor farmers, the combined skills are collective attributes formed and exercised by farmer groups that are successfully delivering benefits to their members. The paper concludes that what poor farmers want is the combination of these five capabilities and argues that a more comprehensive redefinition of skills and learning for the rural poor is needed that responds to this demand.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009