Production, advisory services and marketing

Two men working in a field, a third stands at the edge of the field with a notebook in his hand, watching.
The SDC promotes smallholder and family farms and as part of its work is committed to ensuring they have access to advice and innovative practices. © SDC

According to United Nations forecasts, the world's population will be around 9 billion by 2050. Managing natural resources responsibly while increasing food production is therefore a top priority. The SDC is already active in supporting sustainable agriculture, smallholder farms and research, with a particular emphasis on women and young people.

The SDC's focus

The SDC sees the potential in smallholder and family farms to reduce hunger and malnutrition. Thus the SDC promotes improved access for smallholder farmers to productive resources, facilitates advice tailored to their needs and assists them with marketing.

The SDC particularly endeavours to promote women as producers and market participants. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), women perform a substantial proportion of agricultural work – around 50% in Africa and Asia. However, they often do not have adequate access to land and productive resources, so their crop yields are around 20–30% lower than men's. According to the FAO, empowering women could reduce hunger in developing countries by as much as 17%. To make use of this untapped potential and facilitate market access for women and young people, the SDC supports services targeted specifically at female smallholder farmers and the transfer of knowledge on production enhancement techniques.

The SDC also recognises the importance of good education and training for young farmers of both genders, and supports education and training programmes to this end.

Research, innovation and advisory services

Innovation in agriculture and advisory services geared to the needs of smallholder farmers are key to eradicating poverty and hunger. The SDC is committed to this approach. Areas targeted for innovation and advisory services include plant cultivation, animal husbandry, markets, financing and partnerships with the private sector.

Representing the concerns of smallholder farmers in policy dialogue

The SDC is involved in forging an international framework that supports smallholder agriculture, in order to improve access to productive resources such as capital, seeds, land and water for smallholder farmers worldwide. Among other things, it participates in the development of seed regulations and international trade provisions. The SDC also works to strengthen farmer organisations so that they can offer their members better services and represent their concerns more effectively at a political level.

Agroecology for sustainable production

To boost production while also promoting the responsible use of natural resources on smallholder farms, the SDC supports forms of agriculture that adhere to the FAO's Elements of Agroecology. This entails conserving natural resources with virtually no need for external inputs such as pesticides and fertilisers. Compost, for instance, reuses nutrients and biomass, and maintains soil fertility. A good mix of arable and livestock production not only preserves biodiversity but also provides the variety of food necessary for a healthy diet. In Africa, for example, the SDC supports the African Union's initiative to mainstream ecological agriculture into national production systems by 2025.

Improvements along the entire value chain

The SDC works with farmers, advisers, the private sector and policymakers to establish business models that benefit the poorest and ease the participation for smallholder farmers in the market. The main objective is to increase productivity sustainably and ensure equal participation in agricultural value chains by means of better marketing opportunities. A primary focus for the SDC is reducing harvest and post-harvest losses along production, distribution and consumption channels. This means raising awareness that food systems extend from agricultural production through to consumption, via storage, distribution and marketing. This is to be considered as a basis for sustainable forms of agriculture. Through such cooperation, the SDC also promotes access to affordable and healthy agricultural produce for all.

Background

By 2050, there will be about 9 billion people in the world. At the same time, arable land, grazing areas and water resources are becoming scarcer. Agricultural systems capable of supplying the world's population with adequate quantities of nutritious food are needed.

While in Europe food losses occur mostly at the end of the food chain, for example in supermarkets, restaurants or consumer households, in developing countries it happens at earlier stages. The reasons for this are inadequate harvesting, processing and storage methods, as well as a lack of market access. The FAO's 2011 study Global Food Losses and Food Waste found that countries in sub-Saharan Africa were losing up to 170kg of food per person per year due to these aspects. Since then, that has not substantially changed.

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), there are approximately 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide, with smallholder agriculture being the livelihood of more than 2 billion people. These family farms produce around half of the world's food and over 70% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Climate change, natural disasters and economic changes are impeding the work of smallholder farmers. Smallholders are forced to adapt their production methods to changing and unpredictable conditions. They are thus reliant on research and advisory services. In the SDC's view, such services are successful if they take into account traditional and local know-how. The Swiss agricultural sector is a role model here, with its multifunctional, family-based and environmentally-friendly food production geared to social and regional balance.

Focus on smallholder farms

In three short films, learn how smallholders and family farms cope with challenges such as rising food prices and the effects of climate change.

'Can we feed the world?'

Over the next 30 years, the world's population is set to increase from 7 to around 9 billion people. More than 820 million people go hungry today. Three quarters of them live in rural areas and largely depend on farming for their livelihood. At the same time, food prices are rising, which has a particularly negative impact on people living in poverty in food-importing countries. Global changes in food production and distribution are necessary.

Film: 'Can we feed the world?'

 

'Today's reality of smallholder farms'

Through the story of the Traoré family in West Africa, the film provides an insight into the life of smallholder farmers in developing countries. The film shows how poorly functioning markets, insufficient opportunities for education, training and information, the effects of climate change, and poor access to land and water prevent family farms from realising their full potential.

Film: 'Today's reality of smallholder farms'

 

'Realising the potential of smallholder farming'

For smallholder farmers to be able to make a substantive contribution to food security, they must be able to expand their production beyond their own needs to meet market demand. The film recounts the SDC's efforts on behalf of smallholder farmers with regard to land rights, information and rural development.

Film: 'Realising the potential of smallholder farming'

Documents

Current projects

Object 121 – 132 of 1099

Somalia, UNFPA Support to Health, gender and Data.

01.06.2019 - 31.12.2020

The maternal mortality rates in Somalia are among the highest in the world, which puts women at a high risk in and around child birth. Support to this programme will increase access to sexual and reproductive rights and health services. The programme will also contribute to addressing gender inequality, as well as production of key population data to be used for evidence based programming in Somalia. This will improve women’s well-being, enhance family planning and, as a consequence, increase stability in the region, which is in the Swiss interest.


Support to Dealing with the past roadmap implementation in Nepal

01.06.2019 - 31.03.2025


The program aims to support a new inclusive and equitable mechanism of dealing with the past with the purpose to address the root causes of the conflict which remains an uncompleted process in Nepal. The implementation of a comprehensive national roadmap will guaranty to be victim-centred and a government-driven process. This program provides a solid basis for strengthening an inclusive federal state


Global co-operative movement for health

01.06.2019 - 31.12.2024

Many low- and middle-income countries strive to extend access to essential health services to the entire population. The private co-operative movement has potential to complement government efforts by providing efficient low-cost services for rural populations and informal sector workers. Following the principle of subsidiarity, SDC help the movements’ efforts establish a global platform for capacity strengthening of co-operatives.


ACTIVA – Integrated mine action in Cauca and Nariño

15.05.2019 - 14.11.2020

SDC will support Humanity & Inclusion (HI) in contributing to peace, early recovery and socioeconomic development of indigenous, peasant and afro-descendant communities in the departments of Cauca and Nariño, under the Government Stabilization Policy. The focus of the third phase will be on a comprehensive approach (mine risk education, humanitarian demining, victim rehabilitation and advocacy) that involves recovery of community economies and infrastructure. It will bring a broader impact and better cost-efficiency relationship.


FAO Umbrella Programme on Responsible Agricultural Investments (RAI)

01.05.2019 - 31.12.2027

To feed a growing world population, not only more, but better investments in agriculture are needed. Switzerland contributed to the creation of the Principles of Responsible Agricultural Investments of the Committee on World Food Security. The FAO-Umbrella Programme aims to apply these principles and increase sustainable investment by strengthening legal frameworks, enhancing investments incentives, and strengthening the capacities of smallholders in contract negotiations.


Public Services Improvement

01.05.2019 - 30.04.2023

To improve people's quality of life, municipalities have to deliver efficiently and effectively services such as safe drinking water, waste collection, cultural facilities in a socially inclusive and gender responsive manner. In rural Kyrgyzstan, their capacities still need to be improved in a sustainable way. To achieve this, the project will develop the municipalities' support system which shall then provide adequate counseling and training to those municipalities not only today but also in the long run. 


Reducing risk-factors for Non-Communicable Diseases in Ukraine (opening phase)

01.05.2019 - 31.10.2020

Non-communicable diseases are the main cause of mortality and morbidity in Ukraine incurring significant economic costs of inaction. Non-communicable diseases are determined by risk factors, which can be considerably reduced. This invervention aims at creating a conducive policy and regulatory framework for NCDs prevention, increasing preventive care at primary level and at improving health literacy and reducing behavorial risk factors among the population. 


Budget Support to the health SWAp in the Kyrgyz Republic

01.05.2019 - 30.04.2022

Health sector reform is a priority of the Kyrgyz Government. Considerable improvements of the health status of the population were achieved in the last years. Yet, additional efforts have to be done to improve cost-effectiveness of the health system. The Kyrgyz Government approved its Health Strategy 2030, in view to strengthen primary health care, improve the quality of services and promote public health. The project will support the implementation of the Health Strategy by providing funding and technical assistance to the Government. 


Skills for Jobs

01.05.2019 - 30.06.2023

Lack of market-relevant skills is still an obstacle to Albania’s economic development and to reduce (youth) unemployment. The project is supporting the government to address this by reforming the vocational education and training (VET) system. Private sector will continue to play a bigger role in VET definition and provision. Already more than half of all VET students and 10% of all (short term) trainees will have access to improved and labour-market oriented skills development enhancing their prospects for a decent job and increased income.


Mainstreaming Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) into Agricultural Systems in Africa

01.05.2019 - 30.04.2023

Current agricultural and food systems rely greatly on non-renewable external inputs, impact negatively on soils, water, biodiversity, nutrition and health. Switzerland supports the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative that promotes a viable alternative in Africa to ensure sustainable agricultural development, food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers in an environmentally sustainable manner, thereby contributing towards a more sustainable global food system.


Economic Policy for Inclusive Growth

15.04.2019 - 31.12.2029

The planned intervention aims at supporting inclusive growth that improves the living standards for the Mozambicans, in particular women and youth. It will be pursued through increased analytical capacity and better informed policy making, by means of focussed support to economic analysis and discussion in and between government and non-government institutions. Emphasis on non-government institutions will enhance the demand for and accountability for effective policy making for inclusive growth


Youth Engagement in Democratic Governance and Socio-economic Development in Africa

15.04.2019 - 30.04.2021

Africa has the youngest population globally. While this is an unparalleled opportunity for growth and innovation, it may also fuel instability and violence. Young people in Africa need more capacities to use their potential as drivers of peaceful changes. With African and COMESA, SDC seeks to contribute to current continental, regional and national efforts to create an enabling environment for youth engagement in democratic processes , in line with the CH interest of contributing to the prevention of violent extremisms and supporting economic partnerships in Africa

Object 121 – 132 of 1099