Let us be practical. Farming in the modern day is a challenge and there are several problems that farmers are facing.
One of the presentations during the workshop on “Access to Finance” at the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum highlighted several problems, of which, I felt that two of them are of real concerns.
Access to Finance
The problem here is that farmers or people wanting to engage in farming do not have that relationship for financiers to trust them.
Apparently, there are “risk factors” that can be agreed on to a certain extent, given the fact that in farming one has to bear in mind the viability of their farm, and given the changing climate poses a greater risk to their activities.
But then, the very purpose of these finance agents is to keep the economy strong. And if a potential sector such as agriculture is turned away, then maybe one day every country in the world would be like Barbados, where a serve of food costs no less than $25.
Despite the fact that organisations subsidise the sector, there are still issues. Why is that? According to one of the presenters, providing subsidies in the agricultural sector in the past has resulted into farmers using the money for personal use instead. She emphasised that she believes in giving support, but not subsidy.
I, for one, have to admit that I agree to that. Any thoughts about it? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Use of scientific methods to grow crops
A growing demand has prompted the need for genetically engineered fruits and veggies, up to the extent of canned foods.
This, once again, brings us back to the question (that has been asked over and over again during the session). Are farmers ready for that challenge?
There are certain sectors, tourism for instance that needs a huge amount of fruits and vegetables, even the ones which are off-season.
How can farmers live up to the challenge?
This one is a tricky situation and contradicts everything mentioned before; farmers will need a subsidy in this case to be able to live up to the mark – but then comes with its own challenges.
Even loans will be too much for farmers to pay back, for many years, if the income is not good, and for starters, it will be practically impossible to repay it.
What do I suggest?
Instead of pointing out faults in the subsidy, and blaming farmers, the financers should have a contingency plan, whereby if in a case where a farmer or entrepreneur does not use the money for what was intended initially, he or she would have to face dreadful implications.
Another option would be, when giving aid; the financer should instantly get him/her into a contract with a buyer, and give the entrepreneur a period to produce the demands, which should be realistic of course. In that way, we are creating a win-win situation, whereby the buyer does not have to pay exorbitant prices to import and the financer can be assured the money is likely to go in the right direction.
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Photo credit: Antoine Couturier
Blogpost by Avneel Abhishay, Social Reporter for the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum 2015.