This Chapter introduces smallholders as individual entrepreneurs, who despite limited education, are skilled practitioners of agronomy. They are usually constrained by circumstances outside their control and have limited resources such as labor. This results in prolonged crop establishment that limits their prospects for adopting time sensitive innovations. The Chapter develops the concept of financially-suppressed economies, and how this impacts on farm management.
2. Determinants of Smallholder Systems
This Chapter reviews the physical, economic, social and biological determinants of farming systems; how they interact, in terms of what can be produced; what is produced; how well it is produced; and who has control over the different determinants. It ends with a discussion of rainfall variability and the extent it can be used as a planning tool. A case study of rain-fed rice in the Philippines is given.
3. The Role of Land Tenure
This Chapter evaluates land tenure including ownership, cash rent, share rent, customary, communal, landlessness, etc, and how this impacts on crop production and prospects for long-term investments in protecting natural resources. The Chapter also examines the relative well-being of estate workers and independent smallholders.
4. Support for Smallholders
A major Chapter that looks at both private and public sector support services. It contents that the private sector is more effective, while big parastatal companies and corporative societies are usually detrimental to smallholder production, because of high overheads. The Chapter divides the private sector into small, family-based village enterprises that are in direct contact with the farmers, and large corporate enterprises that eventually process and distribute the produce. Case studies are from Malawi for the public sector and from Nepal for the private sector.
5. Technology Transfer
This Chapter contents that extension efforts are now more an instrument of government policy aimed at supporting a suppressed price policy than a program to promote farmers’ well-being. The Chapter looks at how much information is actually flowing through informal channels and how this can be enhanced. A discussion of integration, and how both innovations and the farming environment can be adjusted to make the innovations more acceptable to farmers, is offered.
6. Sustainability of Smallholders Systems
This Chapter takes a developing world definition of sustainability as “the need to balance food security with environmental protection”. The chapter reviews the trade-offs between the power required to protect the natural resources and the fossil energy based inputs to assure a commercial yield. A next section looks at the issues surrounding nutrient cycling, composting, etc. It evaluates the ratio of the land from which nutrients must be collected to that on which they need to be applied to obtain sustainable yields. The final section looks at the use and abuse of insecticides. Examples are from India, Viet Nam, and Thailand.
7. The Role of Mechanization
This Chapter emphasizes the importance of mechanization in providing farmers with the necessary resources to cultivate enough land in a timely manner. The emphasis is on privately owned contract mechanization versus public ownership. Also discussed is how the smallholder environment reduces the equipment’s efficiency because of difficulty in accessing small fields and excessive turning once in the small fields. Private contract mechanization is discussed for land preparation in Egypt, Pakistan, and Iraq .
8. Irrigation Development
This Chapter looks at how irrigation can be provided to smallholders through large schemes: Egypt and Pakistan are the main example. It looks at pragmatic issues such as the minimum amounts of water needed to push a wetting front across a field; at water depletion; and the substantial period between crops in which little irrigation water is used. The emphasis is on bottom-up planning as an effective management tool.
9. Practicalities of Smallholder Farming
A Chapter discussing various concerns for those assisting smallholders. Items discussed are: casual crop management, certified and hybrid seed versus retained seed, soybeans, intercropping, soil testing, impact of HIV/AIDS, etc.
10. Assisting Smallholders
A summarizing Chapter that looks at the impact of various factors on developing projects aimed at assisting smallholders. It focuses on smallholders as individual entrepreneurs that are more restricted by labor and other shortages than knowledge or motivation. The Chapter reviews how projects might concentrate more on off-farm support services than on technology development and promotion, and the mechanism to effectively do so.