The livelihood diversification tool is part of our transformation phase, which starts once the Rural Dynamic Diagnostic is completed and the local team has built strong local knowledge. The aim is simple: To create resilience among farmers and local communities with additional income streams to supplement the main cash crop production. With our livelihood diversification tool, the field facilitators work with farmers directly on the field, but also with the larger community to discover unmet demands in the region that could be filled with a new project to be implemented. Currently, this tool is applied in Southeast Asia where implementations can vary depending on local needs, but the overarching goals stated above remain the same.
In Sabah, Malaysia for example the local field team has used this tool to drive different income diversification streams with farmers and their families including a goat rearing business, a woman’s group focused on handicraft production, and a bird’s nest enterprise. Our field staff taps into the local demand and together with the community try to develop solutions that ultimately the community has to agree on. Oftentimes these income streams are already utilized by farming communities but lack the ability to scale up to the point where they can become an additional stable income stream. Hence, it is important to listen to the community and identify ways to scale up with knowledge and resources that are already existent.
The premise of this participatory approach is to give the community the ability to develop diversified income streams without financially intervening. We utilize our network and local knowledge to facilitate workshops with leader farmers in the area who already have experience in a successful business line, help procure inputs, set up contracts to distribute products for a fair price, and track change to provide feedback for communities to improve practices. Our field coordinators aim to create a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange of opinion within the community that can lead to new entrepreneurial projects leading to stable diversified income streams that are separate from the main cash crop production.