In developing countries, smallholders represent the largest but also the most vulnerable component of the rural sector. Hivos has seen that they can improve their economic situation and gain control over their lives by applying sustainable farming methods that also boost income. Our support includes access to information and services, integration in national and international markets, building smallholder organisations and training in business skills and sustainable production practices.
Access to and use of information and advisory services
We work through our local partners to provide smallholders access to information and services they can use to identify and prioritise their problems, develop strategies to solve them and make informed decisions on crops and sustainable productivity. Hivos partner Faida Mali in Tanzania for instance played an instrumental role when smallholders in Kenya decided to grow ginger for the national market and allan blackia for international markets, and advised them on best production and marketing practices. This move has reduced their vulnerability and increased their income.
Strong service providers with increased outreach
Smallholders need service providers that can provide relevant and efficient services to large numbers of users. This is why Hivos has supported the National Organic Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) from the start. After 10 years of our support, NOGAMU is now a strong organisation with a membership of 1 million smallholders, uniting the entire organic sector in Uganda. NOGAMU offers assistance in sustainable production practices and access to national and international markets. It also lobbies the Ugandan government on conducive policies and works with universities to develop innovative strategies.
Organised smallholders do better
Hivos works with partners that help smallholders build and strengthen their own organisations. This is the necessary first step toward accessing information and services that can help them boost production of high quality crops, negotiate a fair price, and create the necessary produce volume to reach national and international markets. Companies also need well-organised smallholders to source sufficient good quality products. For example, our partner Faida Mali in Tanzania is very successful in helping smallholders set up, register and govern their own organisations.
A single actor is often not enough to solve complex problems of smallholders. So Hivos brokers and participates in partnerships between NGOs, the private sector, government and smallholder organisations to create a complementary mixture of resources and experiences. A good example of this is the ECOM/SMS partnership in Kenya.
Creating the right conditions, nationally and internationally
Resources, information, services and markets remain elusive to smallholders without a conducive environment. At the national level, Hivos supports organisations such as the Kenya Coffee Producers Association that put a spotlight on issues that concern smallholders and get the government to act on them. Our partners in Indonesia also actively press policy makers at the national, provincial and district levels.
Internationally, we work with various organisations that urge governments, the private sector and international organisations to create an environment for inclusive and sustainable development. One of these is ISEAL, the global association of sustainability standards.
Smallholders are highly vulnerable to fluctuating markets and climate change, but innovative strategies can help them withstand these unstable conditions. Together with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Hivos has set up knowledge initiatives between civil society organisations, policy makers, entrepreneurs and academics through our Smallholder Agency in a Globalised Market programme. The activities of the Rainfed Agriculture Network in India are also closely linked to this. In addition, Hivos is actively developing knowledge on gender issues in the context of value chain development