Small scale farming has become quite widespread in many areas of the world. It can be a viable alternative to factory farming or intensive agriculture. When done right, it can be a sustainable activity that can feed a family and provide them enough money to pay for everything they need for living a good life. Although small scale farming is much better than conventional farming systems, it can be quite challenging at times, as farmers may not always have the proper means and workforce to work their land effectively.
Advantages of Small Scale Farming
Economic advantages are among the biggest pros of small scale agriculture. Local farmers buy almost everything they need locally, thus contributing to the development and growth of their rural communities. Since they don’t need big volumes of things, they prefer to shop locally and pay a little more, rather than spending a lot of time with researching other markets. Besides, the shipping costs are going to be higher if they purchase stuff from remote places. It’s better for them to spend their money locally, so they should be encouraged by their community to keep on doing what they do. Moreover, they are going to sell their excess of produce on the local markets. This is also very good for the economy of these rural areas.
Since small scale farmers tend to sell their products directly to consumers, they manage to avoid the middlemen. This means they can offer high quality, fresh products at relatively low prices. The regular distribution chain includes a wholesaler, a distributor and a supermarket. All these entities need to make a profit, otherwise their business wouldn’t have any reason to exist. This is why local producers can sometimes have lower prices than supermarkets. They don’t have to add so many commissions on top of their real prices, so they can sell for the minimum profit that keeps them happy. It’s good that the money stays in the farmer’s pocket instead of being shared between lots of people who aren’t really necessary to move those products from the filed to the plate of the consumers. It’s worth mentioning that in large scale agriculture, selling directly to end consumers isn’t possible. As huge quantities of products need to be sold relatively fast, wholesalers and distributors are an absolute must, unless most of the crops risk to go bad before being sold.
Small scale farming has another great advantage that might prove to be essential for tomorrow’s world. By cultivating small plots of land, it is possible to do it in a sustainable way. You can rotate crops according to their natural cycles, so that each of them benefits from the previous one, while preparing the soil for the next one. Old farmers knew such secrets and they always took them into consideration when they decided what their next crops should be. Besides, when you have the freedom of cultivating what you like, you can also encourage the presence of insects that help promoting the health of these crops by destroying their natural enemies. Such sustainable systems are only possible on relatively small surface areas, so these principles can’t be applied to large scale farming.
Disadvantages of Small Scale Farming
Although there are so many benefits that recommend and encourage family farms, there are also many challenges to be overcome. For instance, working the land is always more difficult if you don’t have the powerful tools used by big farms. As that kind of equipment is very expensive, chances are most small farmers aren’t going to afford it. They need to find alternative methods to work their land or smaller equipment they can afford to purchase or rent. Even when they form small local associations, they still have a hard time securing all needed tools for obtaining the best performance.
The other challenge is the insurance of the crops. This kind of coverage can be expensive, so some farmers decide to take the risk of seeing their work ruined by natural disasters. Since growing high quality products doesn’t come cheap, they are forced to cut on whatever expenses they can. Some choose to give up insurance coverage. Others choose to work their land with rudimentary tools. Others wish to grow organic products, so they avoid the use of pesticides and of other chemicals. All these people may pay a toll for their decisions, as their crops are going to be smaller, thus bringing them less money than usually.
Read: Feasibility of agricultural insurance products in Australia for weather-related production risks
Nonetheless, the bottom line is that small scale farming offers lots of advantages, thus being one of the best methods for securing the future of our planet. The more families can become self-sufficient, the less resources are going to be used. Such things can contribute to protecting the planet and our environment, enabling us to leave a better heritage to our children.