International expectations for the world's half-billion small farms are growing, against a very dynamic backdrop. Small-scale farming is expected to contribute solutions in areas ranging from poverty reduction and food security to climate change adaptation. Most of the 'inclusive business' models and value chain interventions already set up to do that are reaching only a narrow minority of farmers. To get the future right for the majority, there is a need to ask the right questions. Instead of thinking about how to 'make markets work for the poor', we must look at how small-scale farmers make markets work for them. Farmers themselves are facing and effecting rapid changes in markets, in land and other resources, and in the demographics of rural communities.
This book presents the results of a three-year Knowledge Programme led by IIED, Hivos and a global Learning Network. It integrates knowledge of researchers and practitioners working or trading directly with small producers across three continents. It focuses on agency, by looking at how small-scale farmers navigate formal and informal, global and local markets; their strategies, interests, expectations and limitations; and how they make choices in the dynamic context of a restructuring agrifood sector. From this persepective, globalisation and modernisation appear not to be sweeping the world economy clean, but spreading in parallel with vibrant informal and local economies.
This book challenges our institutions and the development community, both in terms of our assumptions on the roles of smallholders and agribusiness, as well as on how we go about the process of generating knowledge and developing effective policies and interventions.