Agricultural enterprises could be roughly divided into two types, family-operated farms/ smallholder farms and large commercial enterprises. Definitions for this group vary according to the crop and context, and there are a wide of models of how smallholder farmers are integrated into global value chains. Globally, there are more than 525 million farms out of which average small holdings of less than two hectares with three fourth in Asia, like example 0.6 hectares in Nepal. Typically, smallholder farmers are economically impoverished and belong to disadvantaged classes in the society. But it is with an average farm size of 37 hectares in Uruguay. Within population close to 3.38 million; Uruguayan economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated work force, and high levels of social spending where it accounts 12% of GDP and about 70% of total exports. Thus, smallholder farming is better and advantageous in Uruguay than Nepal.
On 31st October in GCARD2, field trip was organized to the participants; I joined the “sustainable production” trip. It was 46 Km far from Montevideo, where I got chance to visit INIA and two smallholder farmers. First one farmer from Solari’s family who used to grow fruits (apple, peach, orange, pear and grape) in their 200 hectares of land and second farmers is Zunino’s family who used to grow vegetables particularly onion and garlic in his 180 hectares of land. Both of them are progressive and innovative farmers and from 2008, INIA has provided continuous supports regarding research in their farming fields. Thus they are motivating in sustainable farming and their farming practices are quite safer than other normal smallholder farmers.
But the globally facing problem of smallholder farmer is that, they are severely disadvantaged when it comes to accessing markets because of their weak bargaining power and information asymmetry. In this situation, mediators like retailer who buy products from farm and sends it to the consumer, may have more profit than to farmers. To overcome this disadvantage, government and allied bodies should link farmers to markets like promoting farmers’ cooperatives, developing market information system, ensuring crop insurance, etc. Given that smallholder farming can play a key role in feeding the world in a sustainable way, there is a need for investments in improved technologies, applied research targeting this agricultural sub-sector, technical services, and specific capacity-building to improve the quality and productivity of smallholder farming while preserving the environment.
Blogpost by Dinesh Panday, one of the GCARD2 social reporters.