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CIFSRF CARICOM Food Security Project September 2013

Socioeconomics & Market Access. No. 2

Harnessing the Potential of Smallholder Farmers to Innovate Smallholder Farmer Potential In the Caribbean, these unsung heroes generate rural employment, and produce fresh foods needed for the health and wellbeing of the local population, on farms typically 1-3 acres in size. The Challenge Despite their importance, smallholder farmers face myriad challenges that often stifle innovation (low access to technology, low cash flow, high exposure to natural disasters, minimal policy support, and poor coordination). The CARICOM Farm to Fork Food Security Project This Project is working to improve the design of government policies and programs to assist smallholder farmers to innovate and adapt to change. By better understanding and identifying social capital rooted within rural communities, the project has highlighted an untapped community resource that can be used to increase innovation and support farmer coordination.

On-farm, Marquis, Saint Lucia

Women Farmer Focus Group , Parika Backdam, Guyana

This factsheet is a product of the CIFSRF CARICOM Food Security Project. The Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) is a program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).


The Approach The Project is applying cutting edge research tools to understand and measure how farmers currently innovate and adapt. This has allowed us to identify existing knowledge

networks that can be used to classify communities, identify innovation champions and enhance knowledge transfer among smallholders.

Black Bay Farmer Knowledge Network

Marquis Farmer Knowledge Network

In Black Bay, St. Lucia (n= 40) weak ties facilitate exchange of new information & innovation diffusion. In Marquis, St. Lucia (n=72)- strong ties foster group identity & cohesiveness) but less responsive to innovation & change.

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CIFSRF CARICOM Food Security Project


Fact Sheet - Harnessing the Potential of Smallholder Farmers to Innovate