Farmers! Which farmers? – Strategies to differentiate categories of farmers as ‘target’ gruop of food security interventions
This insight paper (PDF) by AgriProFocus and Utrecht University aims to contribute to a better conceptualization of ‘farmers’ and to an improved understanding of ‘farmers’ who are currently targeted in food security interventions. The objective is to inform Dutch Food & Nutrition Security (FNS) Policy and provide recommendations on how to enhance the policy’s results for and with the target groups. In practice, a wide range of criteria and indicators are used to differentiate between farmers in agrofood development interventions or investments. The most commonly used criteria are farm size, market integration, labour input and income, while gender and age, the type of farming system, the capabilities of farmers and the level of organisation are other important aspects often considered. A common criticism regarding farmer categorisation is that many farming households have diverse livelihoods strategies, in which only part of the income is generated through farming. There is no evidence yet which agricultural interventions contribute to local food and nutrition security. Private sector led agricultural development contributes to income and productivity improvement, while there is no proven direct effect on enhanced food security. Women and vulnerable groups tend to be left out of private sector led interventions oftentimes because they do not fulfil selection criteria. The Dutch FNS policy and its implementation would gain clarity if it made use of clearer language and definitions of the farmer target groups it intends to reach. When defining a target group or assessing farmer targeted interventions, it is important to be aware of the diverse conceptualisations. For sustainable agricultural sector transformation, and food systems transitions, a local analysis of target groups and context is key as a basis. During strategic planning and programme/project design phases, a vision and strategy for targeting particular groups need to be made. A flexible, context-specific, and stakeholder-informed approach is key to prevent blueprints or classifications that disempower some farmers.