'Oh I say, is that my illustration??'

Eeeeeee, my first chicken publication! 


I’ve recently been working hard with Allen and Page to help promote their Small Holder Range, and specifically their lovely nutritious chicken feed!  I picked this up today, and was very excited to see my very first ad!

For my lovely friends who keep chickens, take a peep:

Ciao for now x

A chicken walks on the path by hardworkinghippy on Flickr.


Figure encapsulating the concept of forest gardening as applied to temperate climates by Robert Hart (pictured) in the early 1960s. Working in Shropshire, England, Hart developed a seven-tiered intercropping system of planting that was both highly productive and self-regulating. The fruits, nuts, and green leafy vegetables harvested from his 0.12 acre garden provided for his raw vegan diet. Hart’s ideas, which he initially labelled ‘ecological horticulture’, went on to serve as guiding principles for the permaculture movement, spearheaded by individuals such as Bill Mollison and Sepp Holzer.

In the last 50 years, a staggering 140 million hectares - the size of almost all the farmland in India - has been taken over by four industrial crops: soya bean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane. And this trend is accelerating.

Want to Double the World’s Food Production? Return the Land to Small Farmers!

"Of all the myriad species of plants or animals whose products are useful to people, agriculture directly uses only a few hundred. Some twelve plant species provide approximately 75% of our total food supply, and only fifteen mammal and bird species make up more than 90% of global domestic livestock production."

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-Harvard School of Public Health

#biodiversity #monoculture
Can small farmers solve our big problems? Fairness in a time of hunger

by Toby Quantrill

Fairtrade Fortnight launches this year amid increasing hunger in the developing world and sharply rising food and commodity prices caused by rising food demand, poor harvests, climate change, excessive speculation and hoarding.

As concern grows over how the world will feed a rapidly rising population, it is almost taken for granted that increased food production will be supplied by big agri-business operating over large tracts of land and pushing down costs with aggressive margins.

There are, however, 450 million smallholders on whom another 1.5 billion rely on for their food and livelihood. The needs and the potential of these people are all too often forgotten in the escalating global food crisis.

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What chance for a Fair outcome from RIO +20?

by Toby Quantrill, Head of Public Policy, Fairtrade Foundation

Twenty years ago one of the largest and highest profile global meetings in history took place in Rio, Brazil. The ‘Earth Summit’, organized by the United Nations, was designed to redirect the global economy and set society on a ‘sustainable’ pathway. Twenty years on, what does Rio+20 have in store for the millions of farmers and workers who are still not getting a fair deal from trade?

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New Post has been published on The Rakyat Post

New Post has been published on

Smallholders not so small, says Sabah Forestry Director

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6, 2014:

The smallholders who planted oil palm trees illegally in Sabah have links to huge companies and were guilty of “encroaching”, the Sabah Forest Department claimed.

The plantations were later recovered by the department.

In a report by, written by Rhett Butler, the department’s director Datuk Sam Mannan also said these people were not “poor farmers” as had been reported.

Mannan was commenting on The Rakyat Post’s article entitled “DAP: Why was oil palm project approved in forest reserve in Sabah?”

In the article, DAP’s Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament Jimmy Wong Sze Phin asked what was different from these smallholders’ plantations and the 82,000ha of forest reserve approved for an oil palm plantation by Mannan.

Wong, had in Parliament, questioned how approval for the plantation in a forest reserve was given, which he argued was against the standards of the Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Mannan, however, alleged that the “small holders” had once been earning five-figure salaries.

“We destroyed about 40,000 hectares of illegal oil palm in forest reserves over the past 10 years. Wong was trying to portray the encroaching was done by down-trodden peasants, but they in fact are ex-government servants who used to make a lot of money,” he was quoted as saying on the environmental website.

Mannan said his goal was to protect 30% of Sabah’s forests by 2030, under Totally Protected Areas including as much “good forests” as possible.

The department, he explained, was pushing for better forest management practices like reduced impact logging with independent third party auditing.

Mannan, however, admitted that achieving such objectives would require compromises which must be made so that conservation “wins handsomely in the end”.

“Pragmatism is a word many people hate, but the reality is if we want all, we will end up losing all.”

Bright Ideas Will Help Feed Africa’s Poor

New entrepreneurial loan schemes and conservation practices are amongst the innovative approaches being introduced to smallholder farmers in Africa. With the continent’s population expected to reach two billion by 2050, pioneering food solutions need to be found so that farmers can make enough food to combat both food insecurity and marginalisation. Yet there is a fear that approaches which focus on value-chains may support multinational companies at the expense of the poor.

Transformation of smallholder farming systems should be an important part of the solution to providing food security, improved nutrition and equitable growth in African countries,” - Chris Henderson, policy adviser at Practical Action.



How can you make international supply chains work better for smallholder farmers?

By Aurelie Walker, Trade Policy Adviser, Fairtrade Foundation

Making international supply chains work better for smallholder farmers is a potential ‘win-win’ for thousands of farmers and businesses. A new report by the Fairtrade Foundation analyses six case studies from farmer groups producing tea, cocoa and nuts in Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire and Malawi asking them from their experience, what really makes trade fair?

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Can a business model withstand an election or a rainstorm?


Smallholders are often excluded from modern agribusiness channels due to a lack of access to services, high transaction costs, and poor infrastructure. Purchasing from large numbers of dispersed producers is associated with increased (perceived) risks and costs. While successful examples of smallholder inclusion into modern supply chains can be found, these remain far from common practice.

Linking smallholders with modern markets is not only a matter of strengthening farmers’ skills and capacities to become better business partners. But also requires the private sector to adjust its business practices to smallholders’ needs and conditions to stimulate sustainable trading relationships. A combination of sound public policies and donor support can contribute to an enabling environment that supports these linkages.Capable farmers and willing buyers, together with an enabling environment can establish trading relationships that are both durable and profitable for both farmers and buyers.


Methodological tools are crucial to bridge the gap between the smallholders in developing countries and the emerging market opportunities in the South and in developed industries.

Different toolkits, methodologies have been developed over the years. Many focused on the value chain, smallholder resource base and livelihood.

Some focus on a sketch up of the situation and other envision detailed understanding. Since markets are highly volatile, situations change with every election or rainstorm; the LINK methodology has been designed to kick off, implement and conclude a participatory innovation process in short iterative “design-test-check-act” cycles.

The LINK Methodology comprises four key tools:

Key tool 1 – Value Chain Map: A strongly visual approach to the classic value chain analysis, divided into a nested perspective of core processes, partner network and external influences.

Key tool 2 – The business model canvas: Adapted from Osterwalder’s innovative approach, this participatory tool has proved to be very valuable for small-scale farmers, NGOs and buyers in understanding business goals and practices.

Key tool 3 – The new business model principles: Represent a set of signposts to help evaluate current business practices in terms of their inclusiveness, and to deliver practical ideas on how to enhance a business’s inclusiveness.

Key tool 4 – The prototype cycle: This mixture of iterative learning and formal monitoring and evaluation approaches aims to design, test and evaluate the progress of innovative elements for an existing or new business model on a regular basis. It also helps to decide between up-scaling aspects that work and redesigning elements that fail.

The toolkit can be used in parts and has been designed for facilitaors, practisioners and other stakeholders in the value chain. Please inform us if you have any sugestions. The Methodology is available both in English (Download English version) and Spanish (Download Spanish Version)

Writter by Jan Hoekstra:

Lecturer Sustainable Chain Development and Chain Empowerment at University of Applied Science Van Hall Larenstein.

Rio+20 a chance to engage smallholder farms in sustainable agriculture

Ifad’s Kanayo Nwanze wants Rio+20 to put smallholder farmers at the centre of the agriculture debate

Mark Tran

13 June 2012

Farmers dig zai pits in Kitui, eastern Kenya. Photograph: Mark Tran for the Guardian

The draft outcome document of the Rio+20 summit mentions smallholder farmers – many of them women – in growing acknowledgment of their importance in terms of food security, with the continued threat of famine in the Sahel, and environmental sustainability, as farming accounts for at least 14% of global greenhouse emissions.

That smallholder farmers are on the agenda is gratifying for Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad), one of the three UN food agencies based in Rome. The Nigerian national, who has worked for 30 years in poverty reduction through agriculture, rural development and research, will be championing the cause of smallholder farmers in Rio next week.

Nwanze said smallholder farmers have gained tremendous importance in the past five years, beginning with the L’Aquila initiative in 2009, in which the G8 industrialised countries pledged to invest $22bn in agriculture in the developing world to boost food security.

"It has been fascinating to see the importance given to small farmers now compared with 20 years ago, when they were considered not sustainable because of their slash and burn techniques," Nwanze said in a telephone interview from Rome. "Now they are considered among the most sustainable private-sector enterprises in terms of family inputs and their relation to the land. Smallholder farmers were specifically mentioned by President Obama at Camp David last month [in the G8 food security initiative].”

Nwanze, who will be chairing a corporate sustainability forum in Rio, said he was looking for two things from the summit. First, he wants agriculture to remain pivotal in any agreement coming out from negotiations.

"There is not a trade-off between agriculture and the environment," he said. "It’s both. It comes down to sustainable intensified systems and the engagement of small farmers. Secondly, governments have to take leadership and champion change, bring agriculture to the fore and the centrality of small farmers and ‘climate smart’ agriculture."

By climate smart agriculture, Ifad means the use of techniques that take into account climate change, extreme conditions of drought and flooding. Such techniques already exist, from terracing to prevent soil loss through erosion and flooding, minimum or zero tillage, coupled with crop rotation and the application of manure, compost or mulching. Agroforestry is also cited as a way of building up resilience, combining trees with agricultural crops or livestock, where trees improve soil quality by capturing nutrients from deep in the soil, as well as acting as a bulwark against erosion.

Ifad’s rural poverty report 2011 said that, since the 1980s, new agroforestry systems have been built by farmers on 5 million hectares (12 million acres) in Niger’s Maradi and Zinder regions, helping to produce more than 500,000 additional tonnes of food annually.

As Nwanze explained, the green revolution in the 1970s resulted in spectacular achievements. India, for example, increased its rice production between 1970 and 2008 from 63m to 148m tonnes and its wheat production nearly quadrupled from 20m to 78m tonnes. But the intensive use of inputs – pesticides and fertilisers – was not sustainable, hence a return to local innovations and the knowledge and seed varieties.

But as Olivier De Schutter, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, has argued, it is unrealistic to seek sustainable progress in combating rural poverty simply through technology. Just as important are what he calls the political economy of food systems and the question of bargaining power. He points out that small-scale farmers are often not organised enough to have a strong bargaining position in the food chain. They buy their inputs at retail prices and sell their crops at wholesale prices, because they cannot negotiate fair prices. De Schutter argues that farmers must be encouraged to form co-operatives and unions, and governments encouraged to involve such organisations in the design and implementation of public policies.

Nwanze certainly sees eye to eye with De Schutter on the question of collective power of smallholder farmers, although they probably part company on the use of technology and the role of the private sector (De Schutter is more sceptical of the private-sector role).

"The best way to create the conditions for poor farmers to grow their businesses is to support and work with their organisations," Nwanze said in a speech to the World Farmers’ Organisation last week. “This is why farmers’ organisations are Ifad’s business partners in almost every country where we operate.”

Nwanze cited examples of where Ifad has helped smallholders to organise themselves, including a project in Egypt, where farmers supply fresh oranges and mozzarella cheese to resorts in Sharm-el-Sheikh, and export sweet peppers and sun-dried tomatoes to Italy and the US. Most impressively, the farmers’ associations have a contract with Heinz, the food giant, which buys 6,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year from 300 project farms.

The world’s 500m smallholder farms provide up to 80% of food in developing countries so their significance should not be overlooked at Rio. Vietnam provides a telling example of how small farmers can prove a potent force for development. It has gone from being a food-deficit country to a major food exporter, and is now the second largest rice exporter in the world, largely through development of its smallholder farming sector. In 2007, the poverty rate fell below 15% compared with 58% in 1979. That is the kind of record Nwanze would like to see replicated in Africa.