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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Social farming (also called care farming): an innovative approach for promoting women’s economic empowerment, decent rural employment and social inclusion. What works in developing countries?

Santosh Kumar Mishra
Santosh Kumar MishraPopulation Education Resource Centre (PERC), Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work, S. N. D. T. Women's University, Mumbai, IndiaIndia
  1. Details about the service providers (organizational form, agricultural activities, type of service offered, motivation of the provision of such services):

a. Organizational form:

Community-Based, Resource-Orientated Farmer Organizations: This type could be a village-level cooperative or association dealing with inputs needed by the members, the resource owners, to enhance the productivity of their businesses based on land, water, or animals. These organizations are generally small, have well-defined geographical areas, and are predominantly concerned about inputs. However, the client group is highly diversified in terms of crops and commodities.

Farmer Organizations: These organizations specialize in a single commodity and opt for value-added products which have expanded markets. They are designated as output-dominated organizations. Not specific to any single community, they can obtain members from among the regional growers of that commodity who are interested in investing some share capital to acquire the most recent processing technology and professional manpower.

b. Agricultural activities:

Social farming also represents a new opportunity for farmers to deliver alternative services to broaden and diversify the scope of their activities and multi-functional role in society. This integration between agricultural and social activities can also provide farmers with new sources of income and enhance the image of agriculture in the ‘public eye’.

c. Type of service offered:

Social Farming adopts a multifunctional view of agriculture. The main products, in addition to saleable produce, are health and employment, education or therapy. Agriculture offers opportunities for people to participate in the varied rhythms of the day and the year, be it in growing food or working with domestic animals. Social farming includes agricultural enterprises and market gardens that integrate people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities; farms which offer openings for the socially disadvantaged, for young offenders or those with learning difficulties, people with drug dependencies, the long-term unemployed; active senior citizens; school and kindergarten farms  and many more. Prevention of illness, inclusion and a better quality of life are features of social agriculture. The special added value of social farming is the possibility for disadvantaged people to be integrated into a living context, where their personal capabilities are valued and enhanced. The presence of the farmers, the contact and relationship with other living beings (animals and plants, the assumption of specific responsibilities) are some of the key features of the rehabilitative practices generated by social farming.

d. Motivation of the provision of such services:

Motivation factors in the provision of such services are: (a) employed in social care & horticulture, and (b) securing tenancy. Further, the integration between agricultural practices and social services may also allow new sources of income for farmers, sharpening up the image of agriculture in society at the same time, and favouring the development of new relations between rural and urban citizens.

  1. Users (who they are, what is the main benefit for them):
  • Farm families,
  • Statutory service providers, and
  • Final beneficiaries, end users
  1. Financing methods or business model:
  • Putting investment decision into the hands of entrepreneurs: Collective decision-making among groups of business owners has been a key success of micro-finance.
  • Putting investment decision into the hands of entrepreneurs: Collective decision-making among groups of business owners has been a key success of micro-finance.
  1. Main challenges:

Economic and social concerns present significant challenges to sustainable agriculture. Specific issues include:

  • farm profitability,
  • economic comparisons among conventional and non-conventional farming components,
  • viability of rural communities,
  • fair trade, and
  • agricultural labor.
  1. Who else is involved (public health sector, private sector, professional organizations etc.):
  • Private companies,
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
  • Community representatives,
  • Farmers associations, and
  • Research and extension agencies
  1. Related regulatory or policy frameworks:

The special added value of social/care farming is the possibility for disadvantaged people to being integrated in a living context, where their personal potential may be valued and enhanced. The presence and the relationship with the farmers, the contact with other living beings – animal and vegetal ones – the assumption of specific responsibilities are some of the key-features of the rehabilitative practices generated by social farming.

  1. Any other relevant information:

Care farming as a development strategy could be a good alternative to give a farm future prospective. Care farms use the whole or part of a farm, provide health, social or educational care services for one or a range of vulnerable groups of people and provide a supervised, structured programme of farming-related activities. The purpose of care farming is to promote mental and physical health by giving people the opportunity to spend time working on the land. Care farms can provide supervised, structured programs of farming-related activities, including animal husbandry, crop and vegetable production and woodland management.


Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.)
Technical Assistant
Population Education Resource Centre