Participation of smallholders in international trade


  • L.N. Kariuki


In many developing countries, the production and trade in agricultural products plays a crucial role for economic growth and development. It enables countries to earn foreign exchange, to create employment and to invest in sustainable utilization of resources. However, developing countries are often faced with a number of constraints that limit local farmers to develop. First of all, the agricultural sector often remains underdeveloped as a result of inadequate and unbalanced investments compared to the industrial sector. At the same time, farmers have insufficient access to market information and (as a result) have poor bargaining power. Most farmers own small plots of land, and as a result are unable to invest in meeting the stringent international standards to which they need comply. Finally, it is felt that, also at WTO level, trade rules favour multinationals and the developed countries, and not small farmers in developing countries. For these farmers to participate in international trade, KENFAP identified three strategies. The first is to build institutional capacity and self-organization; these will enable farmers to be better informed, improve bargaining power and learn from international best practices. The development of partnerships and networks will further contribute to preparing for market access. Finally it recommends the active support through enabling incentives (policies and regulations) from national and international policymakers.