Farm Business Management Skills a Missing Link for Smallholder Farmers: A Case of Malingunde, Malawi (Published)
This study aimed to assess specific farm business management skills which are essential soft skills for increasing agricultural profitability. The study aimed specifically to assess whether smallholder farmers have received farm business training from any organization; examining the level of satisfaction and importance of the farm business management trainings and exploring specific farmers training needs with respect to core principles of farm business management. Quantitative data from 200 smallholder farmers and other stakeholders involved in agricultural activities was collected in central region of Malawi and analysed using Spearman rank correlation with its rho test statistic (rs) tested the relationship between training in farm business management and farmers’ satisfaction and performance. The study found that less farmers received farm business management skills training, training service providers from both government and non-governmental organizations are not providing the necessary management skills due to either inadequate capacity, knowledge and resources or a combination of these.
By international standards, a farm that is less than 10 hectares is classified as small scale. More than 80% of farmers in Nigeria are small holder farmers. Agriculture is a major contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and smallholder farmers play a dominant role in this contribution. A small scale farmer depends on his efficiency in the utilization of basic production resources available to him. He makes a significant and important contribution to the national product, about 99%of total crops output. The smallholder farmer is the main producer of 98% of the food consumed in Nigeria with the exception of wheat. Over the years, deliberate efforts have been made to improve agricultural production by Nigerian governments and some foreign bodies but these efforts have not yielded expected results. Much of the failure can be attributed to different constraints that militate against smallholder farming in Nigeria which include economic, political and financial constraints. The failure can also be attributed to the adapted transformation approach to agriculture which is characterized by the introduction of a wide variety of large scale farming and processing technologies. The emphasis is now from the big scale transformation approach to the small scale improvement strategy approach which is attuned to Nigerian age-long farm practice. This study reveals certain constraints militating against efficiency in smallholder farming in Nigeria and suggests many ways to transform the activities of farmers for enhanced productivity. The paper recommends that Nigerian governments should encourage the participation of private sector in supplying farm inputs to ensure steady and timely supply of such inputs, Nigerian Agricultural Extension System should be revamped by funding arrangement to provide mobility, training, incentives and institutional support so that it will increase its services to farmers for enhanced production, among others.