Diversification strategies and local markets

In small holding communities, the diversification of activities is key to make a better living.  The crop outcome, and thus the farming family survival depends on many unreliable factors. Exposure to risk is major, daunting, and smallholders must constantly think about ways to adapt to new situations. At Rurality, one of our objectives is to help them build better resilience. It is essential to reinforce the farmers’ ability to overcome external impacts like climate change, price drops, disease in the plots or a sudden lack of workers for instance.

Increasing the farmers’ resilience is a long journey with many different paths. They can for example improve the first transformation, which is the first source of value. They can also start gathering with other plantation owners and get organized in terms of crop quality and quantity planning. Food security is another key challenge that could be better managed by keeping food crop growing areas for their own consumption.

One of the successful road towards resilience is to diversify the sources of income, by selling fresh fruits or vegetables for example, in local markets.

Plantain and Cassava

Grace Obeng, Rurality field officer in Ghana, tells us more about growing food crops aside palm oil. “We met some farmers who are also into plantains and cassava and selling it in their local markets. The main reason to engage into other crops is to increase their income and also feed their family. The farmers sell when they harvest and there is more than enough to feed the family. Most of the time though, the quantity is not so much so the money that comes is something little.

However, I believe that it should be encouraged because aside from the fact that it provides food for the family, it also helps them saving money since they will not have to buy everything they consume from the market. Some farmers also use it as a way to protect their immature oil palm plants. When the food crops are there, it can prevent weeds from growing and it saves them from buying crop protection chemicals.

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Visiting local markets

When we establish the Rural Dynamics Diagnostic, we pay a very close attention to the local markets. They inform us about the opportunities that are open to farmers in the area. We can aslo collect data on how to better link local producers to these markets. In many countries, smallholders now do mixed crops, (bananas and coffee, rambutan and rubber, palm oil and water melon,…) in order to be less dependent on one commodity.

Being a farmer & entrepreneur

In the region of Surat Thani in Thailand, we met a rubber farmer who has decided to also grow rambutanon in his plantation a few years ago. He sells the rambutan on the international market and saves the very fresh fruits for the local market. He has also invested in a pound, which provides fishes for him and his employees, and he has capitalized enough money to open a restaurant near his house. With these four well-thought sources of income, he can ensure a better living to his family and be less exposed to the common hazards of farming communities.

Rurality aims to share these successful stories to inspire other farmers and make it possible for them to realize their innovative ideas!

Uncle Lek’s restaurant where he invited us to eat.

The water pound for fishes.