Of course, these technologies are also available to larger producers, but our focus is particularly on affordability this week. In many instances, high tech is associated with high price, putting smaller farmers on the back foot when it comes to increasing production.
Improved production means that small-scale farmers are more likely to expand their operations, generating more income and eventually employing more people. As such, the growth of small-scale farmers and their inclusion into the broader sphere of agriculture is essential for the sector and for society.
But, as the articles in our focus show, technology does not have to be expensive. For example, many small-scale farmers can use affordable drones to scout and monitor their crops. Many smaller drones are very affordable, and can be acquired for less than R20 000 each. Mobile apps have also become an important tool for improving production and efficiencies.
The good thing about these, of course, is that they generally require very little capital input. Indeed, some of these apps are even free if the users choose to use only limited functions.
Technology also doesn’t necessarily refer to high-tech machinery. In some cases, technologies such as ploughs, which have been around for centuries, are not being properly used by subsistence or small-scale farmers in Africa. By introducing these farmers to these types of technologies, which are generally low cost and user-friendly, we can help expand the businesses they are trying to build.
All of this is not to say that we should work towards the elimination of all small-scale farmers. Indeed, there are many negative connotations associated with the term ‘small scale’, and these connotations are usually based on little or no evidence.
Small-scale farmers contribute immensely to their communities. They are of cultural significance in many countries, and are essential in the functioning of rural economies. However, no small-scale farmer should have to limit him- or herself to only small-scale farming.
At Farmer’s Weekly, we are passionate about the development of subsistence, small-scale and medium-scale farmers into commercial farmers who will ultimately be responsible for the mentoring and training of other small-scale farmers.
For this reason, we will delve more into the development of smaller farmers over the months to come, focusing on production basics and the management of finances and businesses, along with the usual high-quality content that we provide that focuses on commercial production.
So, in my editorial this week, I would like to appeal to the smaller farmers who read our magazine to contact me or the team at Farmer’s Weekly to let us know what you would like to read in the magazine, and what information you believe is essential to your long-term success and your development into a commercial farmer.
I also appeal to our commercial and mega farmers to contact me with similar information: what do you think small-scale farmers need to know to develop and expand their businesses?
Email: [email protected] or fill in the form below.