Agriculture for Income
CRS supports local partners to empower agricultural communities with the skills, technologies, and organizational structures they need to enter local, regional, national, and even international markets for agricultural commodities.
Farmers in developing countries need to find new and creative ways to increase income. Women face special difficulties in taking advantage of income-generating opportunities and influencing decisions on how household resources are used. CRS helps smallholder farmers develop profitable and sustainable agroenterprises through a systematic approach that emphasizes group agricultural production.
To improve our ability to support complex and equitable market-led interventions, CRS has invested in a major learning and capacity-building process over the past five years. The Agroenterprise Learning Alliance brings CRS staff and partners together to reflect on successes and challenges, and promotes innovative solutions.
CRS’ interventions aimed at increasing incomes in rural communities range across a variety of activities, such as:
- Education in agroenterprise techniques
- Fostering new finance options, such as savings-led microfinance programs
- Training in food-quality standards that must be met if farmers are to compete in international markets
- Investment in communications technologies, such as cell phones and rugged computers, that give farmers and rural communities access to better market information, faster
Some specific examples:
Crop storage in Ethiopia. Many smallholder farmers lack effective means to store crops safely, protected from pests and disease, once they are harvested. One consequence is that, instead of being able to hold on to their harvest and wait for a favorable market, farmers have to sell as soon as the harvest is in—when there is typically a glut on the market and prices are low. CRS partners in Ethiopia are working to supply large stores near to farmer groups, enabling them to hold their harvest for temporarily and wait for market conditions to improve.
Fair-trade coffee. ACORDAR is a $7.6 million USAID-funded project that enables smallholder coffee farmers in Nicaragua to grow quality coffee and link with competitive and profitable formal markets, thus bringing them out of subsistence farming. Women in particular have benefited from this increased production and profitability.