Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

As I reviewed your introductory material on Agriculture indicators for the Private sector contributions of SDGs, from the perspective of an agronomist mostly interested in stimulating smallholder production for both crops and livestock, I am convinced the private enterprises are the primary and most effective means of supporting smallholders. However, I think your analysis needs to put more emphasis on the small village-based family enterprises that are in direct contact with smallholder farmers, rather than your emphasis on large corporations including the multi-nationals. These family enterprises are what most smallholders rely on to provide vast majority of their support services most noticeable production inputs and marketing produce where they are the primary link between the farmers/producers and the large private corporations serving the agricultural needs of the country. In addition to these well-established services the family enterprises also provide essential contract mechanization services for basic land preparation and crop establishment, as well as threshing and other mechanizable post-harvest needs. The need for contract mechanization services in smallholder communities, may be essential to achieving many of the SDGs. It is the only means to overcome what I provocative refer to as the Genocide Oversight, of developing labor-intensive innovations that attempt to compel smallholder farmers to exert up to twice the caloric energy they have access to. Furthermore, it might be the key to minimizing the need to convert marginal lands from cropping, but halving the total crop establishment time, reducing the delayed establishment yield loss to the food needs can be meet with less land, and more left in natural vegetation. Please review: ; ;

Also, I think history has shown these contract mechanization services can only be provided by through the family enterprise system as only when you have an owner/operator will the mechanical maintenance be maintained for the full designed life of the machinery. Historically any form of joint ownership of mechanization has proven dismal. This would include government mechanization units and even producer organization. When these have attempted to provide mechanization services the equipment has been surveyed out of service with less than half the designed service hours, often as little as one-third. It might also lead to some off-the-book charges for access to the mechanization, or operators vandalizing the odometers so they can service additional areas without accounting for the services.

While the village-based family enterprises will provide most of the immediate needs of the producers, it may be difficult to get detailed information on their business activity. They tend to operate on minimum records mostly kept in notebooks. This may be deliberate and beneficial as it would limit the ability of tax collectors to determine any taxes due.

I would also be highly skeptical on including producer organizations as private sector enterprise. While they are highly promoted by academia and imposed by the development community for their social desirability, a careful analysis of the competitiveness would quickly show they are non-competitive in open competition with family enterprises, and if smallholder fully relied on them, they would force the members deeper into poverty. The result is they attract only a small percent of the potential beneficiaries and even those who agree to participate will divert most of their business to the competing private service provider. Thus, they require continued external facilitation and collapse once almost immediately after external support ends. When viewed objectively they are a real scandal. Please review: ; ;