Purpose: Small farmers, being the primary producers of crops, are the key players in the food supply chain. Yet, they remain the most marginalized in the value chain. The marginalization of small farmers can affect food sustainability. The purpose of this paper is to identify opportunities for bringing more value to small farmers in an agricultural value chain.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper makes use of action research, studying the potato value chain, in a developing agricultural country Pakistan. The authors conducted an in-depth study of 37 farmers in four regions, each being a large potato growing ecosystem. The study examined the end-to-end decision-making processes, sources of input (both physical and information), cultivation and sales practices, cost structure, productivity and profitability of the farmers in potato farming.
Findings: Large variations exist in the crop yield, cost structure and profitability of farmers within each of and among the four regions due to differences in cultivation practices and approach to sales. There is a significant potential to lower costs, increase yield and enhance overall profitability by using the existing better processes. By addressing the issues faced by small farmers their profits can be potentially doubled. The paper also discusses potential means of recrafting and streamlining the value chain to bring more value to small farmers.
Research limitations/implications: The paper provides a detailed account of how different interventions can increase the value for small farmers. Since the current food supply chain and sustainability are under stress, worldwide, the findings of this study have implications for farmers as well as policy makers.
Originality/value: The literature on streamlining the agricultural value chain and enhancing the share of small farmers is scarce. Improving the value chain and reducing the marginalization of small farmers is an essential step toward increasing food sustainability.