One of the common strategies in rural development programmes is to support the adoption of new on-farm activities. The rationale behind this is that farm diversification is a way to assure an appropriate level of income for the farmers. Through interviews with 49 relatively small farmers, the possibilities for diversification as a survival strategy are assessed. The analysis is mainly based on a classification of development pathways by Bowler (1992). Few forms of diversification appear to be successful as a survival strategy in case of economic problems. Only off-farm employment seems to be effective in this respect. The introduction of new activities on marginal farms is hampered by lack of financial and human capital. On the other hand, diversification is often found on small farms without financial problems. This is an indication that on-farm diversification is able to stabilize the household income and to avoid financial problems when it is used as a preventive strategy.