Joachim von Braun, Director of the Development Research Centre of the University of Bonn summarizes the challenges and opportunities of rural livelihoods in the foreword to The Future of Small Farms for Poverty Reduction and Growth. According to von Braun, farmers in developing countries have long faced significant challenges and must cope with risks that small businesses are already familiar with. Today, these challenges are particularly severe, and the aspirations of young people on small farms have changed (see youth). Globalization and the integration of international markets are stimulating intense competition, offering some opportunities but also new risks.
He acknowledges that the transformation of the small-farm economy is one of the biggest economic challenges of our time. For some, it entails growth into specialized, market-oriented farms; others will change to part-time farming combined with off-farm rural jobs. And for others, this transformation will mean a move out of agriculture. The pathways of transformation differ by region and will take decades. Policy must take a long-run view to support and guide this process efficiently, effectively, and in social fairness. The role of women farmers and their livelihoods requires particular attention.
At HRNS, we are familiar with these dynamics. We support farmers in their strive to maintain viable rural livelihoods. In many cases, coffee or cocoa as a cash crop play an important role in farming systems. Through professionalization and market connection, cash crops can make an important contribution to making rural livelihoods financially and socially viable.