Helping Farmers: Healthier Food, Stronger Communities

No matter who you are or where you live, there is probably something you can do to help.

December 13, 2016 | ProgressTH 

Farming, under even the best of circumstances, is a risky and difficult occupation. And often, farmers live and work under less than ideal circumstances.

Today, in many communities around the world, there is increasing awareness of where our food comes from, how it is produced, and just how important food security and quality is not just for farmers, but everyone. There is also increasing awareness of the plight many farmers are under, particularly cash crop and monoculture farmers in developing nations who are often taken advantage of by middlemen and large corporations.

People are aware of this, but few people are aware of the many things anyone can do to help improve this situation.

Consume More Conscientiously

Something as simple as being more informed and careful when you shop or eat out can make a difference for farmers.

Organic farmers' markets and cooperatives exist virtually everywhere and often only a few minutes of research can help you find those nearest you. Supporting local farmers and paying your money directly to them rather than into supply chains that pay farmers the least and are profiting for themselves every step of the way can go far in improving life for farmers.

By connecting directly with your farmers, you also learn exactly where your food comes from and how it is produced, which is better for you and your health.

Farmers and consumers connecting directly also helps restore a sense of community that comes naturally to humans and is essential for empowering us socially and economically, but is also something that has been eroded following the Industrial Revolution. Today, technology is making it possible to swing this trend back and enjoy the best of both worlds; technology and community, but only if we rebuild those communities.

Help Farmers Reduce Costs and Add Value 

Reducing costs and adding value is done through a variety of ways. It can be done in the fields themselves, or through processing, packaging, logistics, and even storage. Most of this involves either investing in existing technology, or modifying and/or developing new technological solutions.

Often farmers in networks work on investing in or developing these solutions. For those with extra time and money, they can join these networks and volunteer their time and talent when possible to help improve the infrastructure farmers need to add value and sell directly to customers.

Joining and building up an agricultural network also means being able to benefit from it, either in the quality of produce coming out of it, or by having access to it if and when one decides to try their own hand at agriculture.

Join Events 

In addition to joining a local organic farming network and helping out, there are other options as well. Events, like FabCafe Bangkok's FarmHack gather engineers, designers, and farmers together to collaborate during a 2 day workshop creating solutions for specific problems farmers face.

Each event builds on the previous, with new members joining and a handful of members participating in each event. So far, automated irrigation, a seeding machine, a weather station, and even a bee counter have gotten their start at these events.

For people who recognize the plight of farmers and desire to help out, events like this are both fun and effective ways of contributing. They also help give regular people insight into the world of farmers, and help farmers connect with people involved in designing and engineering.

At the end of the day, it is very easy to be indifferent or blame others when we hear of the struggle farmers are in. But it is almost just as easy to just do something ourselves about it to help out.

Complaining and blaming has not helped nor will it ever help farmers. Doing, designing, making, sharing, growing, and contributing will.

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