Small-Holder Farming is a Business
Thinking Out Loud with Alberto Solano
Agros is a non-profit and we work with the poorest people. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to put the rigor into what we do as we will do it in a private business. You have to understand that families that live in Matagalpa or in the Shell region of Guatemala, they have to compete with corporations and private citizens there as family will compete here in Yakima or in Spokane. So don’t be misled being a small holder farmer doesn’t mean subsistence. Small owner farms are looking for opportunities. They want to be part of the economy. They want to have technology and they want to make business and be profitable. These farmers, they might be small, but they’re smart. They know that technology will increase the productivity. They work very hard, but they want to know that by working hard, they’re going to make enough money to maintain and improve their quality of life. The worst thing that can happens to a farmer is to be informal. If your informal, informality means that will be taken advantage by anyone. You cannot defend yourself, you’re in the hands of the middleman. If you are a formal business with a legal representation as a farmer association or a cooperative, you can actually go and defend your rights. You have a voice in the market and you will claim that part in the value chain that your work needs or demands. We need to provide all the elements that will help the small holder farmers integrate into the broader economy, meaning access to technology, access to formal markets, access to tangle assistance certification. In this modern world is not just enough to produce the land. You have to produce the land to have to be climate smart. You have to be certified. You have to reduce your carbon footprint. You have to be able to guarantee that there’s no child labor behind. The barriers for small holder farmers today are 10 times higher than they were before. The demands of the market on this small holder farmers are 10 times tougher than they were before. So the pressure for them not only to produce, but to produce well with quality, with environmentally friendly, with social ethical standards, demands that our interventions are non-profit, are more rigorous or more business driven, and we could provide those elements that they need to be successful in the long run.
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