Speech: How to overcome three paradoxes for smallholder farmers

Solidaridad Executive Director Nico Roozen was invited to speak about global challenges for ensuring sustainable supply chains during a conference on how to build security and resilience among small farmers. The conference was hosted by the Innovation Forum in March to bring together industry leaders to exchange experience and progress for initiatives taking place around the globe.

Speech excerpt

"This quote touches on some essential points. We have to develop strategies for smallholder segments of the agricultural sector from the perspective of a business. Not only to feed a growing and more demanding world population but also in order to build vital rural communities for good economic, social and cultural reasons. And today’s reality is that, in many cases, smallholder farming is not beautiful at all. Romanticising the life of small farmers does not reflecting reality or is purely ideological. Unfortunately, this notion is broadly shared in the community of NGOs and development agencies. The paradox of agriculture is that large scale farming is not future proof either. Large scale monocultures rely heavily on fossil and chemical inputs. It is often difficult to reconcile agriculture on this scale with other critical landscape functions – such as biodiversity, water use and local cultural values.

So the first paradox is: Small is not beautiful; but neither is big. Let me go into more detail about smallholder farming…."

In his keynote speech, Roozen further described the three paradoxes facing smallholder farmers:

  • Small is not beautiful, but neither is big.
  • Higher productivity leads to lower prices.
  • Investment money is available, but is not reaching farmers.

Download the full speech below to learn how Solidaridad is adapting to the new realities for modern sustainable development cooperation (PDF)