Cash crops enhance food security

Jun 13, 2014
Cash crops enhance food security

Crops sold on markets ('cash crops') are an integral part of strategies to improve food security at farm household level in developing countries. By selling their surplus production, agricultural households generate income that improves access to food. Research by LEI Wageningen UR, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, shows how farmers choose to cultivate cash crops or food crops for subsistence. The study argues that cash crops play a key role in the transition towards sustainable intensification of agriculture.

Cash crops like cocoa and coffee, but also vegetables and maize, offer income and employment opportunities to the rural economy. In addition, farmers generate capital for management improvements and innovation, and cash crops accelerate the build-up of institutions that enable further commercialisation. As any farming activity, cash crop agriculture requires the management of various types of risk such as soil degradation and price variability. Examples show that farmers employ several adaptive and risk reducing strategies, for instance by diversifying cropping patterns to cope with risks of harvest failures, price slums or loss of market access, and by establishing cooperatives or using agricultural commodity exchanges.

In Africa demand will be increasing over the next decades. Sustainable intensification – aiming to reconcile production and protect the environment – is a practical approach for African farmers to cope with food insecurity. Examples are micro-dosing of fertilizers, intercropping, genetic crop improvements, extension and establishing ' marketing associations. Cash crops are an essential part of sustainable intensification as income generated with cash crops provides farm households with means to save and invest in a more productive farm, and cash crops may have a catalytic effect on agricultural innovations as they add value and productivity in rural areas.

Explore further: Crop intensification and organic fertilizers can be a long-term solution to perennial food shortages in Africa

More information: The report, "Cash crops and food security; Contributions to income, livelihood risk and agricultural innovation," is available online: www.wageningenur.nl/upload_mm/… 0Achterbosch_WEB.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

NASA image: Signs of deforestation in Brazil

15 hours ago

Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil. Many of these were most likely intentionally set in order to deforest the land. Deforestation is the removal of a ...

Sunblock poses potential hazard to sea life

15 hours ago

The sweet and salty aroma of sunscreen and seawater signals a relaxing trip to the shore. But scientists are now reporting that the idyllic beach vacation comes with an environmental hitch. When certain sunblock ...

Is falling recycling rate due to 'green fatigue'?

16 hours ago

It's been suggested that a recent fall in recycling rates is due to green fatigue, caused by the confusing number of recycling bins presented to householders for different materials. Recycling rates woul ...

Study to inform Maryland decision on "fracking"

19 hours ago

The Maryland Department of Environment and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released on August 18, 2014, a report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health, which assesses the potential ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

frederika
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2014
So the author doesn't know where the phrase 'banana republic' comes from?
forcing communities to produce cash crops at the expense of balance farming is a vicious attack upon the economic independence of any region
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2014
In the USSR, local farmers were not allowed to sell any produce from their garden, until the Soviets began to starve.
Not long ago, Cubans were allowed by their dear leader to till garden plots for themselves and to sell any excess.
Socialist farm subsidies in the US and Europe destroy agriculture in third world countries, but in how many of those third world countries do farmers own the land, can leverage capital using that land to buy tools to increase production?
Mugabe nationalized the farmland in Zimbabwe and now the country must import grain where it had once been an exporter of grain, for cash.