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Markets, smallholders and empowerment

IIED, Hivos


With the global population expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050, there has been growing attention at the highest policy circles to the contribution of small-scale agriculture to food security and poverty eradication. In a 2010 report, Olivier de Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, cited research findings that small-scale farmers could potentially double their yields within ten years, subject to prudent application of external inputs and effective management of natural resources. However, the creation of an enabling framework towards this end has been hampered by contradictory approaches and policy ''pendulum swings" over the past few decades that have seen national and international efforts focus alternately on 'rights-based' and 'market-based' support strategies. This issue of Capacity.org aims to refocus attention on the critical but largely neglected issue of producer agency: that is, the capacity of producers to make informed choices, and to act on those choices. Drawing on several detailed case studies - contract farming arrangements that benefit or exploit farmers; guidelines for addressing farm labour interests; and the role of women on small-scale farms - the journal's contributors offer practical guidance on how to strike the right balance between "economic and political empowerment."

Publication information

  • External: X00096
  • Published: Apr 2012 - Capacity.org
  • Theme: Sustainable markets
  • Source pub: Issue 44 April 2012
  • Language: English

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Project information

What are the strategies and constraints of small-scale producers in an era of globalisation? This project provides insights that can help in designing better policies and business interventions to support them.

More at www.iied.org:
Small producer agency in the globalised market