2.1. Farm Households with Multiple Employment
Increasing population and the custom of dividing the farm
among the children with the change of generation have resulted
in an ever increasing reduction of farm sizes. Many farms
have become so small that they do not suffice as the family's
basis of livelihood. On the other hand, in many countries,
the number of job opportunities outside agriculture or even
outside the country have increased. Both factors have caused
the spread of multiple employment among smallholder household
members, which, to a limited extent, always existed. Differences
in family and farm structure, in resource endowment in the
region and at the level of general economic development have
led to different types of multiple employment:
Individual Income Combination
Here, the cultivator himself takes up a non-agricultural
main or side occupation or works as agricultural labourer
on other farms. This always is necessary if no children of
working age are available. It is often difficult to combine
both activities because the animals need daily care and because
of the seasonality of labour demand in agriculture. As daily
presence on the farm is necessary, the second job can be taken
up locally, where job opportunities are usually limited, except
Household Income Combination
Here, one or more sons(in some societies, daughters as well)take
up non- agricultural employment or work as agricultural labourers
and give at least part of their salary to their family. The
job can be taken up locally or in distant places, even abroad,
because the children are not tied to the farm. It can be permanent
or assumed whenever employment is offered.
In other cases, working life is divided into two sections.
Up till about 45 years of age, the men work outside the village,
often in distant places, and the father operates the farm.
When he becomes too old and weak, the son takes over the cultivation,
but at that time usually, his children are of working age.
Extended Family Economy
Nuclear families maintain close social and economic ties
even after migration. A network of cooperating families of
various types is emerging with the farm as center. The urban
branches of the extended family receive foodstuffs from their
parents' farm as support or for sentimental reasons, sometimes
let their preschool children live on the farm to save rent
in the city, and have the right to return, which is an important
security. Inversely, services are offered the other way round
in the form of help during harvest time or remittances. These
do not have to be regular, but are effected whenever needed
for investments or repairs.
An effect similar to that of gainful employment outside the
farm can be achieved if production and repairs are effected
within the household. Production and processing bring income,
and if the farmers do the maintenance and repair work themselves
instead of letting others do it against payment, this saves
expenditure and thus increases the standard of living. While
in former times this was widespread and constituted an important
way of improving the level of living, with increasing development
and specialization of activities, its importance is shrinking.
However. situations vary, and in more remote regions or times
of depression, this may be the only possibility to improve
the standard of living beyond the proceeds of the farm. Here,
in any case, the contribution made by women is the largest.
Consequences of Multiple Employment
In all the cases described, the notion of a farm, the prototype
of agriculture, which absorbs all family labour and provides
the living for the family members is not applicable. Neither
is all the labour used on the farm, since part of it is employed
in other activities, nor is the standard of living dependent
on the farm income but to a lesser or greater extent on non-
farm income as well.
Instead of farms, we have households which resulted from
various types of families and several economic activities.
Their source of income can vary from time to time, from person
to person, and can be earned in different localities.
Under such conditions, the goals of the family members may
vary. In the past, the interest of all family members was
centered on the farm. Now, the aim is to improve the basis
of existence and the standard of living regardless of the
means by which this can be achieved. If a large share of income
is obtained from non-agricultural sources, the interest in
agriculture may decrease.
The attitude of the youth, especially, has changed. While
former generations wanted a share of landed properry (land
to the tiller), now the wish is for income opportunities,
wherever they come from. We have to forget the notion that
every small farmer's son is happy if he can continue farming.
He might be, if the farm is large enough for modern farming.
But he probably is not happy if the farm is tloo small or
if for other reasons he has to continue traditional farming,
especially if other options are available. For the fathers'
generation, it was predetermined that the son would take over
cultivation ; for the young boy of today, this often is one
option among several. In many cases, experience shows that
great expenses and difficulties are involved in finding a
non agricultural job. However, many of these young people
are successful and, in this case, a higher standard of living
is achieved more rapidly than by hard work in agriculture.
Therefore, relatives usually support young men in their hard,
long and not always successful search for jobs.
Changing the clamour for access to land into that of access
to income has turned the agrarian question into a problem
of the overall society and can be solved only within this
Implications for Agricultural Policy
Households with multiple employment and income have different
goals concerning the cultivation of their land and other needs
with respect to support by public services. Consequently.
the policy instruments for reaching them cannot be the same
as those used for full time family farms.
The household members may not be interested in achieving
the highest yield and income because they have other means
of earning their livelihood. A minimal work requirement may
be of greater interest so that much time is left for non-farm
activities. Or it may be of interest to concentrate the labour
requirements on a few days of planting and harvesting, for
instance, for which relatives from the city are called for
help. This has consequences for the work of the extension
service and determines whether they are interested in advice
at all, influences the time during which they are available
for consultation and may have consequences for the person
making decisions and the decision making process. Household
members working in the city bring information from other sources
than the extension staff' and may influence the decision process
because. they often pay the expenses involved. This applies
especially to all decisions concerning investments. The question
of need for credit and security has to be assessed by taking
the total income and not only the agricultural income into
consideration. Alternatives to credit such as salary advances
have to be considered.
Marketing usually plays a small role as most products are
for home consumption or used for barter trade, and, therefore,
neither cooperatives nor price policy measures are very important.
The same usually holds true for subsidies to inputs because
their use is often limited.
In many cases where holdings are in the hands of families
with multiple employment, the whole range of instruments of
agricultural policy does not reach these people becauses they
aim at other targets. One can add the question as to whether
agricultural policy support should reach these households
in the first place, since many of them will hardly cultivate
land in another 15 years. Under this assumption, other policy
measures, especially those listed under regional development,
might be more appropriate and helpful.
In addition to the households with multiple employment,
there are those which only have a too small marginal farm,
but could not find off farm gainful employment and are limited
to increasing their purchasing power by avoiding expenses
and other farm household production. They, as well, draw little
benefit from the agricultural policy measures because they
hardly sell or buy products or inputs, do not use the extension
service, the cooperatives and similar services.