Small-scale agriculture is the primary source of food, it contributes 80 percent of the food consumed in a majority of developing countries. This high percentage therefore points at the role played by small-scale agriculture in tackling food security, as a source of food and as a source of livelihood for a large number of people living in poverty. In fact, according to FAO, two-thirds of the global population living in poverty today is dependent on agriculture as the basis of their income.
Despite the pivotal role played by agriculture in the world economy more so in developing countries, it is characterized by small production volumes of variable quality. These characteristics reflect the challenges facing these small-scale farmers including; limited access to finance among other inputs, low levels of investment, limited access to improved agricultural technologies and practices among others.
It is agreeable that raising small-holder productivity is a strategic necessity. Attempts to raise productivity however, will have limited success if small holder linkages to the global market are not strengthened simultaneously. Notably, simultaneously raising agricultural productivity and strengthening small-scale farmers access to the global market will help mitigate the impacts of price volatility for the benefit of all. In addition, these efforts will go a long way in enhancing food security and reducing poverty.
There are a number of actions that could help integrate small-scale farmers into the global market including; first and foremost, forming and organizing the small-scale farmers into associations. Also, governments among other stakeholders should build the value chain infrastructure to help the farmers access the global markets. These infrastructure may include; warehousing, packaging and suitable transport means more so in rural areas where most small scale farmers are based. Governments around the world may also support small-scale farmers access global markets through policy intervention at the macro and trade level.
Other efforts include revitalization of extension services including technical services geared to good agricultural practice and modern markets which will go a long in helping these farmers access the global market. To help overcome the limited access to finance, stakeholders should develop financial credit mechanisms that support farmer groups and individual farmers to improve their linkages to the global market.
Further efforts that will help integrate small-scale farmers into the global market include; development or rather promotion of new models of farming such as contract farming. Also, there is a need to address critical constraints to production for example access to productive land, access to vital farm inputs as well as access to knowledge channels such as training.
Integrating small-scale farmers into the global market offers many benefits to farmers. Of key importance is that access to the global market will lead to improvement in farmer income. In addition, integrating farmers into global markets will help increase demand assurance therefore stabilizing their income. Even of greater impact, is the fact that small- scale farmers will be in a better position to convert from subsistence to commercial farming.