Have you ever wondered why smallholder farmers do not scale? It is not because they don’t want to grow and become a big farm but the skills and resilience to grow are not sufficient as the need for survival becomes the main focus. This is a big challenge for many micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs)that started years ago and have been operating on the same scale to survive.
To scale up a business, it comes with having the required business skills to mobilize various resources (human, technical, material amongst others) and infrastructure to achieve scalability. This can be introduced at the association or group levels where farmers can build collaboration amongst themselves genuinely through consensus and mutual interests that are legally binding. It is important for us to accept the reality that farming should be first a business before it is embraced as a culture. Therefore, smallholder farmers should be exposed to critical business skills training for them to develop the capacity to handle growth, business risks, and external shocks amongst others, aside from the usual GAP training that has been in circulation for over the years.
Any support given to smallholder farmers should incorporate business skills coaching and hand holding to grow their farming business and make it a more sustainable enterprise. Business skills such as farm management practices, market identification and assessments, shock adaptation, risk assessment and mitigation, basic budgeting, and record keeping amongst others should be incorporated into their intervention activities. For us to achieve food security, the priority of the farmers must move from mere survival to a growth mindset, where increased productivity is the only option, and business skills could make this a reality. Let us embrace the new normal for our smallholder farmers and sensitize them more to gradually accept this new behavior for their utmost good and the good of future generations. No one must be left behind on this journey.