The Farmer Development Chain Micro-farming projects that supply Harvest of Hope are assessed for possible impacts on their capital assets and stable, sustainable development.
The Farmer Development Chain grew out of an earnest striving to understand and manage dynamics and challenges which confront fieldworkers daily.
The steps along the development chain can be monitored and measured via the Abalimi Sustainability Index. This unique system is able to track sustainable development of farmers and their community projects and is an essential tool for recognizing the development stage of a project and the direction in which it could progress.
The development chain (or continuum) has four phases: survival, subsistence, livelihood (semi-commercial) and commercial level. Projects can remain in a phase permanently, cycle between phases, or progress steadily through phases until they reach a stage that they ‘settle’ in, depending on circumstances.
The Farmer Development Chain for Organic Micro Farming Projects
Survival Phase: Produce is seasonally grown, for own consumption and very little is sold. Any money generated is used to purchase garden inputs and household necessities. There is no minimum production area but production areas usually vary between door size-50sq m although much larger garden areas can be at this level as well, for other reasons.
Survival and Subsistence Phase: are often the most cost effective phases of micro-farmer development and can permanently overcome hunger and poverty within a 3-6 month period, at very low cost provided the people desire this. Social benefits at these levels can be powerful eg. Re-building and strengthening of local social networks, women’s empowerment, family health etc
Seasonal produce is grown for own consumption and for sale or gifting. Production is intensified and excess produce is sold to supplement household incomes, or given to the needy or to neighbors and friends. Savings start to become important and re-investment in the garden begins. The successful subsistence farmer has a supply of excess vegetables on a regular basis.
Esam Sakho community garden, Makhaza, Kayelitsha – late subsistence , progressing towards early livelihood.
Livelihood(semi-commercial)Phase: up to 50% of produce is for own and local consumption and 50% for selling to the market. Production is continuous and provides for up to 100% of farmer income. Saving is stable and regular and re-investment is practiced.
Khulamtwana community garden, Mkhaza, Kayelitsha – early livelihood
Commercial Phase: Abalimi is in the process of defining how it will support this phase. In this phase, almost everything is sold for cash and formal profit making can grow rapidly for the farmers and their associates.
Farmers at all phases and levels must receive modest, ongoing, permanent, structural, technical and development support as part of the permanent sustainability formula. Taking the 1500-3000 farmers into account, the current total support cost per farmer is between R84/per farmer/per month and R170/per farmer/per month. This includes full inputs supply, training, ongoing on-site training and extension, value chain development, marketing support through a pack-shed, planning, monitoring and evaluation, accounting, administration and management, financing, promotional and fundraising support.
Micro-farming projects that supply Harvest of Hope are assessed on their capital assets and stable, sustainable development and ability to move up the continuum.