Across all borders, languages and religions, farmers share the heart of entrepreneurs. They raise capital, invest in assets, take risks, make impossible decisions, pray for good weather, grumble about politics, worry about the market, and carry the pressure of providing for those they love.
The evolution of small farms is intrinsically related to the process of economic development. The availability of land, capital, resources, training, transportation, and buyers depends heavily on the stability of the farmer’s local and national economy. Differences in farming across the world are not only reflections of geography and climate, but also variations in development.
99 Farmers offers a 12 month training program that provides education on general farming best practice such as agricultural resilience, risk reduction and management, efficiency in water and irrigation management, asset management, diversification of crops, value-add to product and by-product, and logistics management.
Our BUILD program is centered around a cohort of 6-10 farmers who work together to learn, implement and sustain general best practices in farming. The cohort is led by an in-country farmer liaison and reviewed by expert farmers from along the CA-99. Graduates then move on to GROW.
Growing consumer preferences for sustainably and ethically produced agriculture commodities create incentives for buyers to shorten supply chains and source more directly from farmers to ensure that the goods are sustainably produced.
Unfortunately, the inverse relationship – the farmer to the market – still remains elusive and unstable. No matter the quality of the crop and transparency of production, if the farmer has no access to buyers or the market is saturated with the same product, technical farm know-how and access to capital will do little in impacting the small farmers’ development.
99 Farmers will work with the small farmer, and any other small farmers in his or her community, to obtain the needed transport through either a partnering
organization or a loan. This may include using relationships to lobby for a specific construction project, finding outside funding, investing in the formation of a co-op, etc. In the case of a saturated market, 99 Farmers will work with small farmers through the GROW mentoring program to assess land capabilities and diversify crops for more strategic market share.
Of the 1.2 billion people living in poverty, 75% of them live in rural areas dependent on the agricultural production of plots less than 5 acres.
These rural subsistence farmers are also many of the world’s poorest, most challenged, and least food secure. Lack of access to basic farming know-how, investment capital and markets trap them in a cycle of low quality yields while the quality of their land worsens with malpractice. Despite their grit, humility, and creativity, these small farmers never seem to catch a break.
The embodied practices of cultivation shape the values, beliefs, and identities of those who undertake it. We believe there is something about the repeated toil of farming that is uniquely capable of crafting humans into beings of grit, humility, and creativity. Farming isn’t just something you do – it does something to you
Furthermore, these characteristics produced through agriculture are precisely what the developing world needs from its leaders. We believe that teaching others to farm is less about cultivating land and more about shaping individuals who are confident, interdependent, and influential leaders.
An inability to access capital completes the cycle of agricultural stagnation. As a result, the small farmer remains unable to improve his or her inputs, increase his or her farming technical knowledge and tools, create predictable high quality yields and maintain favorable credit status.
Through our BUILD program, our Legacy mentors work with smallholders to establish credit-worthiness and gain financial literacy. Then, we assist smallholders in applying for, receiving and managing loans from partner organizations who specialize in funding agricultural development.
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