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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?

Social farming (also called care farming, more information available here) is a farming practice that uses agricultural resources to provide social or educational care services for vulnerable groups of people. It is widely practiced in Europe and now we are looking for examples of care farming in developing countries.

Concrete care farming examples include:

  • the provision of on-farm child and elderly care services
  • the integration of disadvantaged groups in productive activities to promote their rehabilitation, social inclusion and employability.

Social / Care farming experiences from European countries have shown that economic participation helps vulnerable persons (e.g. people with intellectual or physical disabilities, ex-combatants, convicts, etc.) integrate back into society. It does this by providing them with new skills and by rewarding them with a feeling of utility and self-appreciation.

Other experiences which focus on providing care and educational services are good models (e.g. the Italian kindergarten farms –‘agriasilo’-) for delivering innovative and effective social services in remote rural areas where public care services are often non-existent or inadequate, inaccessible and of poor quality.

The purpose of this discussion

While many examples of the use of care farming in developed countries exist, we are looking for examples from developing countries contexts, specifically in rural areas. The case studies will be analysed to develop a framework for promoting care farming practices in developing countries.

We hope that this forum discussion will solicit lots of interest around care farming practices, how they work and what makes them successful, and how the concept can be adapted to less developed countries. We would be interested in how care farming may help fill gaps in social service provision as well as provide rural employment opportunities – especially to women. Please include as many details as possible in your contribution, for example:

  • details about the service providers (organizational form, agricultural activities, type of service offered, motivation of the provision of such services);
  • users (who they are, what is the main benefit for them);
  • financing methods or business model;
  • main challenges;
  • who else is involved (public health sector, private sector, professional organizations etc.);
  • related regulatory or policy frameworks;
  • any other relevant information.

The examples you will share will be part of a compilation of care farming practices. Through these cases we wish to explore the potential of social / care farming for care and educational service provision in poor rural areas with the goal of strengthening rural women’s economic empowerment, decent rural employment creation, and social inclusion. In collaboration with the University of Pisa and other international and national partners, we will also develop a country implementation framework to support countries’ efforts for reducing the burden of rural women’s unpaid care work by promoting social / care farming practices.

We look forward to a very interesting and rich discussion.

Thank you very much in advance for your contribution!

Hajnalka Petrics
Gender and Development Officer
Social Protection Division
Cross-cutting Theme on Gender

This discussion is now closed. Please contact for any further information.

Hajnalka Petrics FAO ESP, Italy
Dear Kanchan,
Thank you for writing to us from Nepal! So great to see also WOCAN's participation in this forum! Please share with us your experience related to the child care facilities you mentioned becasue our plan is exactly this: to discover what is out there, analyse and develop the conceptual and methodological framework that can describe the best care/social farming type experiences in less developed countries. Therefore we are open to any experience which managed to provide alternative/innovative care service in rural areas.  There is already a sort of definition for care/social farming for the cases that are common in European countreis but that will not or not fully apply in other parts of the world.
Let us know if you find other examples, we look forward to receiving your news!
All the best,


Hajnalka Petrics FAO ESP, Italy

Dear Dr. Hossain,

Thank you for having shared this case with us. This is the first case we received through this forum! We would be very happy to see that this forum becomes also food for thought and could encourage colleauges like you to explore if care/social farming experiences exist in their country. And yes, please share them with us. It will be our pleasure to include them in our analysis and also to build a partnership with your organization.

With best regards,


Hajnalka Petrics FAO ESP, Italy

Dear George,

Lots of greetings from Budapest to Havaii!

Thank you very much for providing the first and very motivating comment to this online discussion on care farming! The perspective of mutual care you introduced is very important and we intend to include in our analysis also this form of care provision. The essays you shared will be very useful for us to further deepen our thinking about the relation between care, well functioning communities and food security. Considering that FAO works for the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition your essay on food systems, care and hunger is really of high value added.

Your further contributions, comments are very welcome and we look forward to keeping in touch!



Chers collégues

Le concept d’Agriculture sociale  qui est  une approche  novatrice  pour la promotion de l’autonomisation économique des femmes , l’emploi rural décent  et  l’inclusion  sociale n’est pas encore développée  au Gabon à ce jour. En conséquence , nous ne pouvons pas intervenir en terme de partage d’expérience. Cependant, nous pouvons faire des modestes  contributions méthodologiques au regard du  contexte.

Le développement de l’agriculture sociale  pourra nécessiter des analyses genre minutieuses et détaillées sur les quelques ci-après :

1-le potentiel : en terme  de capacité de valorisation ;

2-les groupes : en terme  de spécification  de genre (handicap, compétence , employabilité etc.) ;

3- les liens : en terme de création de structures autonomes de gestion légale avec les différents niveaux (micro , méso, macro etc.) et création des tribunes rurales ;

4-les chaînes de valeur : en terme de  définition et création  des chaînes de valeur adaptées aux groupes genre et fourniture de services ;

5- le partenariat : en terme de définition de partenariat ciblé et formel  avec création des réseaux  socio-ruraux  etc.

Les données issues de ces analyses  permettrons de guider le concept, notamment, l’élaboration des plans d’action et des stratégies d’intervention au développement de l’Agriculture sociale  avec un impact sur la protection social, le genre et le développement.   

Pour l’instant voici notre petite contribution  à nouveau concept.



Kanchan Lama WOCAN, Nepal

This is a really very interesting and encouraging topic. I have come across some examples of INGO programmes where child care facilities (community based) have been implemented to allow women to use their time for economically productive activities including participation in water users group meetings, cash crop cultivation and livestock raising;  however I don't know if it is linked to care farming methodology and approach. I would like to explore this in my country too and find out what examples are there ..!!



Dr. Shaikh Tanveer Hossain Friends In Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), Bangladesh
Shaikh Tanveer

Dear Moderator,


Please find herewith a case study of a women, Alecha Begum from our program area in Sylhet (north-eastern Bangladesh) on organic farming. I think, it is an encouraging case and it quite similar with care/ social farming! We are also evaluating some other case stories and hope to share with you in future.

Thanking you.

Kind regards,

Dr. Shaikh Tanveer Hossain
Sustainable Agriculture Advisor & Chief Agricultural Coordinator
Friends In Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB)a-1207,
Dhaka, Bangladesh


See the attachment:Case_NE Bangladesh-Alecha.pdf
George Kent Department of Political Science, University of Hawai'i, United States of ...


Care farming is a wonderful concept, based on that most human instinct, the desire to take action to benefit others. However, in much of the discussion of care farming, the assumption is that the caring goes from strong parties to weaker parties, from those who supply the caring to those who need the caring. The approach emphasizes the business opportunities in providing care to those who need it

However, in well-functioning communities, there is a great deal of caring that is not undertaken to produce incomes for those who provide the care. There is mutual caring, with no distinction between those who provide care and those who receive it. Most caring is driven by the desire to establish good human relationships. Strong caring communities function like large families. With sustained mutual caring of this sort, there is likely to be much less need for the unilateral kind of caring.

I would like to share two essays-in-progress that might help to provide context for this discussion on care farming and, more broadly, on the ways in which food systems might help to strengthen the caring. Ending Hunger in Caring Communities, available at argues that hunger in the world would be sharply reduced if communities were more caring. The second essay, On Caring, available at probes more deeply into the meaning of caring in various contexts.

Aloha, George Kent