Small holder farmers, who form the majority of the farming population produce both for self- consumption and for the market. While food produced following an agroecological approach is safe and sustainable, it is necessary that it also forms basis for farmers economic prosperity. Majority of family farmers struggle to market the little surpluses that they have. There aren’t any niche markets for agroecological produce. In the absence of facilities for storage facilities and capacities to add value, farmers are forced to sell their produce in the local markets with low returns. The many benefits that farmers accrue by practising agro ecological methods, like safe produce, less cost intensive and climate resilience etc., gets offset by lack of adequate post-harvest storage infrastructure, low cost processing and value addition options.
Value addition is generally being promoted for commercial products that are prepared for international markets. These are beyond the affordability of a small farmer. However, value addition is important even if marketed in domestic and local markets as they are done for various reasons – to make them less susceptible to pests and unfavourable climatic conditions, to prolong a product’s life and also add value.
Today many efforts are being made to process products for local, national or international markets, in the hope that the processed product may fetch the farmer a better price. Many farmers are reaping the benefits of collectivisation, either as informal groups or as a Farmer Producer Organisation. They are showing that it is important to build the quality of the produce right from the production level, adopting environmentally safe practices, getting together to further add value by grading or branding and gaining by collectively marketing.
New agricultural markets and innovative value chains are emerging. This issue will look at the ways in which farmers can become more resilient in the face of price fluctuations, climate change, or hostile institutions. What are the different forms of farmer organisations and collectives to deal with the markets? How are they connecting to the urban consumers? What are the ways in which they are able to add value to their produce? What type of support are they able to receive from the government and formal institutions? What strategies do farmers and their organisations employ to meet the challenges posed by the corporate domination of agricultural markets? This issue will examine the policies and institutional frameworks needed to make value systems work for poor farmers, and how the development of local markets and local value chains can improve rural livelihoods in a sustainable way.
Articles for the June 2021 issue of LEISA India should be sent to the editors before 8st May 2021, to email@example.com