Deborah E. Brown, Jennie S. Popp, Jefferson D. Miller


Food security and agriculture have been inextricably linked in the efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture over a 15-year effort (2015-2030). Food insecure countries, such as Jamaica, need to identify a corps of traditional crop farmers, sufficiently driven to consistently achieve high productivity, and invest in these farmers to help them expand and modernize their activities. Drawing from the Theory of Planned Behavior for theoretical grounding, this study used qualitative methods to examine the motives and reasons smallholder farmers became farmers. The study illuminates the experiences of selected smallholder farmers in western Jamaica (N=42) to reveal their motives to farm, successes and constraints in terms of production practices and farm business development. The data, which can be used to inform bottom-up policy formulation, indicated that small farmers in Jamaica experience similar agricultural challenges, but that their motivations to farm are heterogeneous. A typology of smallholder farmers produced four discernible farmer sub-populations. This study provides context-specific profiles and information about the complex social, economic and cultural interactions that result in choosing farming as a career. This typology generates evidence that can help guide the refinement of food security programs, extension services and policy interventions to better target a heterogeneous clientele. This characterization of farmers can also add depth and background to discussions about the efficient allocation of scarce resources within the traditional food crop sector. 


Food security, bottom-up approach, smallholder farmers, motives to farm.

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