Hivos International

Smallholders

In order to learn from previous experiences, Hivos is examining its role(s) and performance in various multi-actor initiatives. A multi-actor initiative is undertaken by several actors with complementary strengths, with the aim of creating joint impact to address complex problems. A successful multi-actor initiative is one where the joint impact is greater than the impact culminating from individual efforts, and contributes to systemic change.

Biodiversity is the cornerstone of our very existence. Also in agricultural systems, biodiversity plays an important role in providing important goods and services to farmers, for example in crop pollination and maintenance of soil fertility. In coffee cultivation systems, layers of shade trees used to be very common. Shade trees play a key role in providing timber and fruits, storing carbon, maintaining a favourable microclimate, and harbouring biodiversity. Nevertheless, coffee farmers across the tropics have often removed these shade trees, in search of higher coffee productivity.

Rural youth today, farmers tomorrow?

The Knowledge Programme on ‘Small producers agency in globalised markets’ released this first Working Paper during the First Provocative Seminar and the Hivos Conference on Knowledge and Change. This paper looks at some of the big dilemmas confronting small-scale producers. It revisits five decades of changes in policies, behavior and practices and highlights some areas of debate that have changed in light of the 2007-2008 global food crisis.

In large parts of the world, small-scale farmers, traders and processors are constrained in their business operations due to a lack of finance. Farmers want to be paid immediately, but traders do not have the ready cash to buy their produce. Traders need working capital so they can buy and transport produce, but lack the collateral to get loans. Processors cannot get the money they need to buy equipment or ensure a steady supply of inputs.

In addition to the two-page columns issued in the Farming Matters magazine of the past two years, the joint Hivos and Oxfam Novib agrobiodiversity @ knowledged programme has co-produced the recently released issue of Farming Matters on agricultural biodiversity. The issue looks at initiatives that promote and enhance the use, management and conservation of agricultural biodiversity, and at the insights gained from the efforts to scale up these experiences. 

The magazine Farming Matters published an article on Ms. Shakuntalabai, an Indian widow that is showing her local environment how it's done. For years, she has been involved in organic farming and biodiversity conservation. She signals hope and opportunity in a country where small-scale farmers, most of whom farm less than 2 hectares of land, play a central role in feeding the country’s population of more than one billion people. Today, in India many men migrate away from the countryside. As a result, women are becoming increasingly involved in farming. They are also often guardians of local knowledge, which increases the importance of their role.

16 June 2012, Pontifica Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. At a session of the IIED Fair Ideas Conference, four speakers explain how in their regions, agrobiodiversity promotes resilience. Hivos and Oxfam Novib organised this session as part of their 3-year knowledge programme Agrobiodiversity @ knowledged.

In terms of human development, it has been placed 172nd out of 182 countries1. With rural subsistence farmers constituting 85% of its population2, the lack of modern energy services in rural areas is perceived as a major impediment to raising agricultural productivity. While 20% of Mozambique’s urban population have access to electricity, this is true of only 1 to 2% of the rural population. The country is sparsely populated with large tracts of unutilised land, making grid extension unviable. The prospects for and benefits from investing in small‐scale biofuel production for local energy generation are therefore considerable. The Mozambican government is actively promoting Jatropha as part of its National Biofuel Policy and Strategy3 (see section II.9) A National Biofuel Council is being set up to coordinate, supervise and evaluate its implementation. Jatropha cultivation in Mozambique has grown from 7,000 ha in 2008 to 35,000 ha in 2010, and is expected to grow to 170,000 ha in 20152.

Honduras imports 100% of its fossil fuels. The total value of fuel imports in 2008 was equivalent to 67% of Honduras’ export earnings1, increasing steadily from 49% in 2005 and 56% in 2007. This, combined with the rise of oil prices, led to a number of initiatives for the development of alternative, locally produced, cleaner fuels such as biodiesel, PPO and ethanol, that were supported by the Honduran government via a new law2. However, so far mostly large enterprises have taken advantage of the opportunity3. Small‐scale initiatives, that benefit the poorer parts of the mainly rural population, are virtually nonexistent, due to the lack of availability of appropriate technologies.

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