Learning to produce for the market is first step in promoting farming-as-business culture

LEARNING TO PRODUCE FOR THE MARKET IS FIRST STEP IN PROMOTING FARMING-AS- BUSINESS CULTURE For farmers to link with markets, they need to learn not only to produce, but to “produce for the market” and a key starting point is for them to learn to view their farm as a business enterprise that needs to be managed for profit. This is just as true for Australian farmers as it is for smallholder farmers in the developing world. This was the message of Dr Dindo Campilan, a social scientist from the International Potato Center (CIP) who has worked in developing countries to introduce innovations for improving on-farm productivity, postharvest value addition and market development. He was speaking at the Crawford Fund 2011 international conference titled “The Supermarket Revolution: Good, Bad, Ugly for the World’s Farmers, Consumers and Retailers?” in Parliament House, Canberra from 14 to 16 August. Experiences both in Australia and the developing world show that successful farm business requires the capacity not only for technological change but also for nurturing relationships among market chain actors based on trust, collaboration and coordination. “Everyday decisions by farmers involve a constant balancing act between preserving and growing their limited assets, between immediate benefits and longer-term returns, and between concrete economic rewards and less tangible values for building social capital.” CIP’s research-for-development work in Asia, Africa and Latin America seeks to enhance farmers’ capacity to introduce and benefit from market-driven innovations. And as Dr Campilan explained, this is doubly challenging in the case of smallholder producers for neglected and undervalued crops – such as roots and tubers. “Like Australian farmers having success in Australia’s bush-tucker industries, we have had successes in supporting farming communities to utilize local resources — such as crop genetic diversity and traditional know-how — for selling products to elite urban consumers and supermarkets. While numerous exist efforts to support farmer capacity building, these tend to focus on assisting them increase production, while marketing is often an after-thought. CIP thus works with partners from Australia and around the world to develop and promote learning approaches that take marketing as starting point for determining what, how and for whom to produce. .Dr Campilan cites the Farmer Business School (FBS) approach, being piloted in Indonesia, which combines methodological elements of participatory chain-wide learning and farmer field school. With Australian support through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, CIP has stepped up efforts for further development and wider application of FBS in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Other speakers at this year’s event include: – President Haruhiko Kuroda of the Asian Development Bank, who’s also addressing a National Press Club luncheon on 16.8; – Professor Thomas Reardon from Michigan State University, the leading global expert in links between agrifood industry transformation and food security in Asia and elsewhere; – Professor Allan Fels AO, the former chair of the ACCC, considering policy implications for Australia in the supermarket revolution; Further press materials, the program and other background is available at www.crawfordfund.org or contact Cathy Reade on 0413 575 934 to pre-arrange interviews. The Crawford Fund wishes to thank the supporters of this event including: ACIAR; AusAID; Austraining International; Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; CSIRO; Grains Research and Development Corporation; Industrial Research Limited; Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation; McKinna et al Strategic Insight Global Outlook;University of Adelaide School of Economics and Waite Research Institute; World Vegetable Centre.