The program primarily targets smallholder households. The overwhelming majority of these households derive their basic livelihoods assets and resources from crop production and livestock rearing. These households practice their major economic activities (both crop production and livestock rearing) in both highland and lowland areas where crop production and pastoralist mode of living is particularly dominant. These days, the livelihoods of these target households increasingly come under intense pressure/heavy threats often due to the impact of climate change.
Smallholder farm, pastoral and agro-pastoral households dominate the agricultural sector. The production and productivity of these smallholder households are constrained by multiple factors including environmental degradation, backward agricultural practices (both farming and livestock rearing), erratic nature of rainfall as almost all crop production is rain fed, limited knowledge of irrigation practices, recurring drought and increasing prices of inputs. Many of the rural households face the challenge of transitory grain food insecurity not only because of the fact that crop production falls short grain consumption requirements but because many of the smallholder households face strong challenge in the prevailing exchange system (that grain marketing) for which they have very limited bargaining power and capacity to influence the outcomes of major decisions. On top of that, purposive engagement towards market oriented production system (both crop and livestock) is very limited. Under the prevailing system, smallholder households can no longer afford to work in isolation and atomized manner if they want to influence marketing decisions taken at different levels to their advantage. It is through organized and collective endeavors that smallholder households can gain some degree of bargaining power to determine and as a result get remunerative prices for their agricultural produces. Under this program, improving the food security situation of target households remains the primary objective and major focus of our intervention. However, our work in the past hugely focused on the promotion of activities often designed to address the availability pillar of food security. Based on new insights and key lessons gained from the implementation of handful of projects under this program, engaging in the development and implementation of new and additional projects contributing to both access and utilization pillars of food security has become equally important.