"Poor farmers are not a problem to be solved. They are the solution." -Bill Gates
The data shows(from almost everyone who spoke) that small holder farmers do as well if not better then large farms or collective farms. The risk with collectives is that the small farmer is ultimately forced out by automation and efficiency of scale leading to an underclass with no hope of getting out of poverty.Examples from all regions were given of going in both directions and how forming collective was disastrous and helping or developing small holders improved both the yield and the level of food security and economics of the small farmers. The critical thing is not to give someone a fish but teach him to fish. This includes several aspects
- Access to markets (Howard Buffet's $13M donation) Roads, develop markets.
- Ensure the farmer gets most of the market value and it is not lost to middlemen or to the known 1/3 loss of produce between production and consumption.
- have to ensure that there is no land grabbing. This is biggest risk to future development.
- R&D the best research to help produce the maximum yield. Increased yield is better for environment. It leads to less water need, It allows diversity of crops.
- Fertilizer subsidies are good as long as they are not robbing from other aspects that will make the farmer self sufficient rather then dependant upon government subsidies.
- Education. You have to efficiently teach the small stake holder farmers to grow properly. Extension services critical.
- Make the farmer the stakeholder in a small farm(even as small as a tenth of a hectare)
- Get production up to 3 tons per hectare.
- Stable government, in multiple examples going from stable govt to unstable led to drastic drop in production and the reverse going from unstable to stable led to amazing increases in production.
- need commodity markets to avoid price volatility
Five step(of Dr. Vo-Tong Xuanon how to do this in developing area
- Field survey
- Verify tech to be adopted
- Design water management system
- investment projects essential infrastructure
- production of rice
Ambassador Quinn does welcome:
Conversation: Smallholder successes around the world
Pedro Sanchez – Director of Tropical Agriculture, the Earth Institute at Columbia University
When you go from 1 ton per hectare to 3 tons you cut water loss and help climate. Growth stunting of kids reversed.
Shenggen Fan – Director-General, International Food Policy Research Institute Grew up on small farm. He was child labor(LOL) policy is very important. Investment in rural roads. Decentralize collectives to small holders.
Ruth Oniang'o – Editor, African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition, and Development
Ajay Vashee – President, International Federation of Agricultural Producers
Vo Tong Xuan – President, An Giang University Viet Nam second largest rice exporter in the world all on the backs of small stake holders but could not have been done without scientific help. Closed university for 2 months and 2000 students were trained how to make good seedling and how to grow rice. they went out and trained every farmer how to do this on 1/10 of hectare. With this experience he feels that they could do this in Africa.
Conversation: Smallholders as entrepreneurs and innovators
Louise Fresco – Professor, University of Amsterdam
She talked about the importance of teaching that there are markets and there is a chance to be an entrepreneur. It does not come natural and there is resistance but once they see it they quickly do well.
Marco Ferroni – Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation
He works on extension and linking farmers to markets. For farmers to become entropenaurs need
Eleni Gabre-Madhin – Director, Ethiopian Commodity Exchange
increased tonnage 1.5 to 2.5 per hectare however overwhelming market concern. 50% price volatility year to year. highest in world. 2002 prices collapsed because of good harvest. crop prices collapsed so much the farmers couldn't afford fertilizer so next crop fell to point that Ethiopia had to import massive amounts of food. Contract failure also significant problem. this now gets fair price for farmers and also the farmers know what they have to do produce higher grade of coffee. Farmers aggressively try to improve the grade of their crop to get paid higher. This is free enterprise and not handout.
Rajesh Kumar: had 2 acre farm in small village. Did small kiosk to sell sweet corn both fresh, steamed and roated. Now they have 200 kiosks and also sell kernals. now has 200 Hectares. They have 350 contract farmers that get the produce sold at a fixed price. The kiosks are managed by college students who can study while they man the kiosks.
Kamal El Kheshen – Vice President, African Development Bank
Largest development financial institution in africa $ 100B They got completely out of HIV-aids since there are so many other NGO's involved. But they are getting into HIV vaccine since there are not many investing in this.Doing irrigation scemes in large way.Tripple F crisis Food-Fuel-Financial. Small Holder 80% of work done by women. Micro crdit. Market development.
Shivaji Pandey – Director, Plant Production Division, UN Food & Agriculture Organization
Invest in local community so they can take care of themselves. Walk the talk, don't just criticise.
I will be posting videos and photos as they get processed so check back.