Interestingly, the year 2014 is the year for family farmers. I have discussed what the year for family farming means for family farmers in an earlier post. As a family farmer, what do you need to actually succeed? How do you go about farming, what crops should you grow that will actually give you profit and how should you grow them? How can your children help or assist your family farm even though they don’t want to go into the farm? And most importantly, How can small holder family farmers access low interest loans or grants to improve their Agribusiness venture?
These are just few of the many questions troubling the minds of smallholder family farmers across the world, but especially in most ACP countries, where you hear things like this from both farmers and their children: “I have been farming for several years…this is not what my kids to do” ; “We youths perceive agriculture as a primitive occupation, which is labour intensive and out of touch with modern technology”, “I wish I had money to startup a big farm, I cannot manage my family effectively with this small farm”
Amongst all these, one of the major challenges facing small holder family farmers is access to finance as most banking institutions especially commercial banks give double digit interest and stringent requirements for small holder farmers to access them, making most smallholder farmers unable to access and pay back such loans. Sadly, if they eventually get such loans they are unable to pay and may forfeit their security or even go into debt and bankruptcy. What will farmers do to access low interest loans and most importantly, what things do you grow to get good returns to pay back the loan?
How can Youths in Family Farming Households Assist?
First, it is easier to get loans and credit facilities when farmers form a co-operative rather than as an individual farmers but even at that such loans are not easy to come buy. However, young children of family farmers who are mostly more exposed and learned than their parents can assist their parents to get soft loans and grants by writing effective business plan, do strategic financial analysis and feasibility studies to effectively convince financial institutions or other investors that their business is viable.
Small holder family farmers should grow low maturing vegetables as they can start getting returns in less than 2 months and also can grow more on small piece of land(less than 2 ha). This will entice their children to farming as they see their parents getting quick returns rather than waiting close to one year to get returns from annual crops.
It has been noticed that people in urban areas consumes vegetables and prices are costlier than the rural areas as they are unable to grow vegetables due to limited space. Family farmers in the rural areas can encourage their children to create markets in this urban areas using ICT tools like a mobile phone, they can get market women who sell in these urban areas to harvest their vegetables and they are paid an agreed price. This way, the family farmers don’t have to spend money carrying their farm produce to the city, rather the buyers come to them!
It cannot be overemphasized that youths who are children of smallholder farmers hold the key to improving the livelihoods of their families and create employment for themselves. In a world where few youths are employed after spending long years in a higher institution of learning, effective family farming holds the key to improving Food security and reducing unemployment.
If you are a youth in a Family Farming household, please Contact me with your details and profile of your farm and I will promote your produce on this platform.