IS THERE A FUTURE FOR SMALL FARMS uri icon

abstract

  • Small farms are seriously challenged today in ways that make their future precarious. Marketing chains are changing and becoming more integrated and more demanding of quality and food safety. This is creating new opportunities for farmers who can compete and link to these markets, but threatens to leave many others behind. In developing countries, small farmers also face unfair competition from rich country farmers in many of their export and domestic markets. The viability of many is further undermined by the continuing shrinkage of their average farm size. And the spread of HIV/AIDS is further eroding the number of productive farm family workers, and leaving many children as orphans with limited knowledge about how to farm. Left to themselves, these forces will curtail opportunities for small farms, overly favor large farms, and lead to a premature and rapid exit of many small farms, adding to already serious problems of rural poverty and urban ghettos. If small farmers are to have a viable future, then there is a need for a concerted effort by governments, NGOs, and the private sector to create a more enabling economic environment for their development. Appropriate interventions could unleash significant benefits in the form of pro-poor agricultural growth in many developing countries and more than pay for themselves in terms of their economic and social return. But they do not seem very likely at the moment and current trends are moving in the opposite direction.

publication date

  • 2005
  • 2005