South Sudan microfinance client

Farming as a Business

Development Tool Promotes Both Food and Income Security


Limited land, low incomes, relentless population growth and now climate change throughout the developing world necessitate the development of intensive, yet sustainable land-use systems and approaches to farming.


However, agricultural production is constrained due to low adoption of improved technologies, volatile markets, limited access to markets and a lack of business knowledge among farmers. Many farming families are unable to meet basic household needs.


Putting More Money into Farmers’ Pockets

In this context, ACDI/VOCA’s Farming as a Business curriculum creates profound change in a smallholder farmer’s mentality and in her or his prospects for economic improvement. It is not merely a new way of thinking, but also a substantial new way of operating that puts even a small farm on an enterprise plane and provides tools for proper management.


It has been demonstrated to contribute to food and income security by putting more money into the pockets of rural farmers in developing countries. It does this by increasing both productivity and profitability. And the new empowerment it brings has beneficial psychological and social effects.


Shift from Subsistence Agriculture to Farming for Profit

To achieve this, farmers are trained to view agriculture as a sustainable business and make the shift from subsistence farming to farming for profit.


The business training stimulates change in farmers’ attitudes by creating a class of business-minded farmers empowered to plan, produce, market and keep and use records.


It also encourages farmers to work in groups that can efficiently promote participatory research and training, business skills development, business services, information dissemination, bulk buying and collective marketing.


Rooted in Local Community

To reach farmers, ACDI/VOCA supports local NGO training programs that impart Farming as a Business knowledge and skills to local agricultural extension officers and lead farmers.


For a multiplier effect these partners further disseminate teachings by supporting peer farmers in adapting improved agronomic practices to the local context. Rural farmers who have adopted Farming as a Business teachings practice such techniques as the use of fertilizers, pesticides and IPM methods, improved seeds, cost-saving approaches, budgeting and saving for re-investment.


Farming as a Family Business

The curriculum is a dynamic tool that is continuously refined. Our trainers adapt it to local needs, incorporate interactive activities and tailor it with gender-smart approaches.


An important step in its evolution is the development of the gender-sensitive Farming as a Family Business curriculum. ACDI/VOCA first piloted this variation in 2004 to address cultural causes for slow and failed adoption of new and improved farming practices and technologies in western Kenya. Gender analysis had revealed that for various cultural reasons, men who participated in the original program rarely shared training information with women household members, even though these women were integral to the family farms.


To address these findings, ACDI/VOCA’s team created the first iteration of Farming as a Family Business, reflecting the need to foster collective efforts between men and women in the planning and managing of family farm enterprises. This curriculum has been further refined and implemented in other contexts with great success. Read more in the World Report article “Farming as a Family Business Brings Women into the Equation.”


Greater Profits, Food Security for Farming Families

The bottom line is that Farming as a Business in its many iterations—including Dairy Farming as a Business, Seaweed Farming as a Business, and Community Forestry as a Business—enables farmers to improve their standards of living, increase their household wealth, provide productive employment, and enhance their families’ and communities’ food security. Learn more about particular programs by clicking the links below.


PDF version (324, KB).




A Selection of Past Projects

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