November 22, 2012

2012: Highlight # 48

Why are some small farmers able to break out of poverty while most others struggle? Do they do different things or do they do the same things differently? Kishore and others try to understand...

How do Small Farmers become Prosperous?

Some observations and questions

Avinash Kishore, Sneha Lamba, Tushaar Shah and Nidhi Prabha Tewari

This highlight presents some observations and questions that emerge from a synthesis of case studies of small but prosperous farmers (SPFs) who earn much more from their small holdings than their peers. We find that these farmers have access to irrigation and enjoy water control and they grow prosperous by intensifying their land use and shifting from food crops to high value cash crops and allied commodities like milk, eggs, fish, or meat produced for market. SPFs tend to produce crops or commodities that offer multiple harvests (cotton, vegetables, milk, etc.) to ease liquidity and reduce price risks. They also seem to be engaged in a portfolio of activities, not only to spread risk, but also to tap new opportunities to increase profits. It will be interesting to understand factors and conditions that facilitate emulation of these outliers by other farmers. Most of the government and NGO projects, programs and policies are not designed to help a large number of small farmers make the switch to prosperity. A rethink of these policies and programs is needed. We hope that this highlight will promote a discussion leading to an action plan for small farmer prosperity.

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