Smallholder and family farming

Smallholder farming family in a cabbage field in Honduras
Small farms produce almost half of the world’s food needs. © SDC/Fritz R. Staehelin

Smallholders and family farms play an important role in agriculture. They help provide food for the growing world population, create and preserve jobs in rural areas, and stem the rural exodus. In order to stay in business, smallholders and family farms need stable markets, an infrastructure adapted to their needs, and access to education, training and to financial and information services. The SDC helps smallholders and family farms to adapt to change and to boost production in a sustainable way. Three films offer insights into the daily life of smallholder farms and the SDC’s work in this area. The UN has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming.

Some 70% of the people living in poverty around the world live in rural areas and depend to a large extent on agriculture for their livelihood. Smallholders produce about 50% of the food worldwide and 500 million small farms are located in developing countries, where hunger is most prevalent.

Harnessing women’s potential more effectively

The SDC’s support for smallholders and family farms in developing countries mainly consists of assisting them to adapt to climate change, to changing available means and methods of production and to new market demands in order to boost and improve their production. Women carry out about 50% of agricultural work in Africa and Asia. Yet because they have insufficient access to the means of production, their agricultural yields are 20-30% lower than men’s. Giving women better access to means of production could reduce hunger in developing countries by around 17%.

The SDC’s activities are focused on the following areas:

  • Establishing a regulatory international framework that supports smallholder farming (including seed regulations and international trade rules)
  • Securing access to natural resources such as land and water
  • Strengthening farmers’ organisations to enable them to offer their members better services and to voice their concerns more effectively in the political arena
  • Improving access to services, particularly for women small farmers, to realise their untapped potential
  • Ensuring better access for women and young people to means of production
  • Improving storage and processing of agricultural products to reduce postharvest losses
  • Promoting research and advice on new technologies adapted to the needs of smallholders and family farms
  • Creating alternative sources of income for smallholder farmers

Smallholder

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines smallholder as small-scale farmers, pastoralists, forest keepers and fishers who manage areas below 10 hectares. Smallholder farms are characterized by family-focused motives and it is the families who are responsible for everything from production to farm maintenance. Part of what is produced is consumed by the family itself. Smallholder farming is about a third less productive than large-scale farming. Despite this fact – or indeed because of it – the international community is increasingly convinced that supporting smallholder and family farming can contribute to alleviating world hunger and poverty.

Links

Documents

Global Programme Food Security (GPFS) at work no. 4: Smallholder/Family Farming
[en] (PDF, Page 1, 49.1 kB, English)

Investing in Smallholder Agriculture for Food Security – A Report by the High Level Panel of Experts
[en] (PDF, 2.6 MB, English)

Factsheet: Les exploitations agricoles familiales et la sécurité alimentaire
[fr] (PDF, Number of pages 2, 321.1 kB)

Better income for Georgian farmers
[en] (PDF, Number of pages 4, 821.9 kB, English)

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 32

Forging a common «Nile culture» through music and academic training

Nile Project musicians on a boat.

01.05.2015 - 31.10.2019

To make the Nile Basin a common ground and shared ecosystem for the inhabitants of the eleven countries through which the Nile River flows, the SDC supports the innovative musical and educational Nile Project. The project brings together artists, students and concerned citizens. A series of acclaimed concerts has taken place since 2013; at the same time, students are developing initiatives to foster a better use of water resources.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Egypt
Economy and Employment
Education
Migration
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Education
Environment
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Economy and Employment
Culture
Disaster Risk Reduction – Preparedness
Education policy
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Environment protection
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Vocational training and skills development
Access to information incl. support to media and ICT
Mitigation of the effects of climate change
Culture
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
Protection and access
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
INDUSTRY
HUMANITARIAN AID
EDUCATION
INDUSTRY
GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
COMMUNICATIONS
GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
HUMANITARIAN AID
Education policy and administrative management
Culture and recreation
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Disaster prevention and preparedness
Vocational training
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Environmental policy and administrative management
Human rights
Culture and recreation
Information and communication technology (ICT)
Biosphere protection
Material relief assistance and services

01.05.2015 - 31.10.2019


CHF 750'000



Micro-insurances for smallholder rice farmers in Asia

Work in the rice fields in India.

01.05.2015 - 30.09.2018

RIICE is the name given to a public-private development partnership project that combines technological innovation and crop insurance. Its purpose: to improve food security by providing micro-insurance against crop losses and to enhance forecasting capacities thanks to vanguard satellite technology. Millions of smallholder rice farmers in Asia should benefit from this innovative project.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Asia
Agriculture and Food Security
Economy and Employment
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
AGRICULTURE
INDUSTRY
Agricultural development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development

01.05.2015 - 30.09.2018


CHF 3'787'500



Livestock Development in the South of Armenia

Armenian Farmer with his calf

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2020

In the provinces of Syunik and Vayots Dzor in southern Armenia, the agricultural sector mostly comprises subsistence farming where farmers are barely able to support their households. This project aims to help farmers increase their milk and meat production, and thus their incomes, by supporting local veterinary services (to improve animal health), facilitating access to milk and meat markets, and promoting the sharing of know-how among farmers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Economy and Employment
Agriculture value-chain development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
INDUSTRY
AGRICULTURE
Rural development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Agricultural development

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2020


CHF 10'000'000



Modernising vocational education and training related to agriculture in Georgia

The image shows the VET college student Medea getting hands-on instructions in the Senaki College greenhouse on growing vegetables.

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2018

Georgia’s vocational education and training (VET) system does not correspond to the needs of the transition to a market economy which the government has sought to bring about since the country gained its independence. The SDC is helping the Georgian government to develop a more modern VET system that integrates theory and practice and allows a long-term increase in farm productivity and rural incomes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Economy and Employment
Education
Agriculture and Food Security
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
Vocational training and skills development
Agriculture value-chain development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
EDUCATION
AGRICULTURE
INDUSTRY
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
Vocational training
Agricultural development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Rural development

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2018


CHF 6'547'000



A vocational education and training fund for disadvantaged people in Nepal

 Eine junge nepalesische Frau arbeitet an einem Sicherungskasten.

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020

The SDC established the Nepal Employment Fund together with the Government of Nepal and other partners to create training opportunities for young and disadvantaged people.  Training institutions fund the courses and the fund reimburses them if those receiving training find a job with a satisfactory income.  

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Nepal
Vocational training and skills development
Labor market development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
EDUCATION
OTHER SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES
INDUSTRY
Vocational training
Employment policy and administrative management
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development

01.01.2011 - 30.06.2020


CHF 5'996'665



Local Economic Development (LED) Project

01.02.2020 - 30.09.2029

Small and medium entrepreneurs, their employees, and citizens will benefit from inclusive economic growth and equitable employment generation. Public and private sector actors will engage in joint local economic strategizing, planning and implementation. The improved framework conditions for inclusive business will result in more jobs, economic empowerment and ultimately increased sustainable income and well-being; particularly of the poor and disadvantaged.


Ashshash: for men and women who have escaped trafficking

01.10.2018 - 28.02.2029

20,000 people (of whom 70% women) who have experienced trafficking will be economically and socially rehabilitated. Public and private institutions will provide employment or in-kind support for entrepreneurship to men and women who have escaped trafficking. The Government will better address the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, prosecution of traffickers in the revision and enacting of policies, and create partnerships, for bringing about systemic changes.


Making Markets Work for the Chars (M4C) in Northern Bangladesh (Phase II)

01.02.2017 - 31.12.2019

Women and men living on riverine islands will increase the productivity of their farms as a result of better access to quality inputs and services, processing and output markets. The 25’000 benefitting farm households are likely to invest additional income into the diversification of their farm businesses and basic needs. This will result in reduced poverty and vulnerability of men and women on riverine islands and an increase in their well-being.  


Programme d’Appui à la Formation Professionnelle et à l’Apprentissage (PAFPA)

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2020

Au Burkina Faso, la majorité des jeunes travaille dans des activités à faible valeur ajoutée, du fait d’un système de formation professionnelle peu efficace et faiblement lié au secteur privé. Le PAFPA entend améliorer l’accès et la qualité de ce système en capitalisant sur les expériences de la DDC dans les secteurs agro-alimentaire et artisanal et en promouvant un partenariat public-privé inédit entre le Ministère de la formation professionnelle, la plus grande organisation patronale et une ONG spécialisée en ingénierie de formation.


Cultural Programme Tanzania (CPT)

01.09.2016 - 31.12.2019

This programme uses a comprehensive approach to promote local culture and livelihood opportunities for young artists, and for social cohesion. It aims to do so through institutional and specific projects’ support. The programme is in alignment with SDC’s Culture and Development Policy that supports devoting a minimum of 1% of SDC’s operational budget in a country to initiatives in the local artistic and culture sector.


Promoting off-farm employment and income in the Great Lakes Region through climate responsive construction material production

01.07.2016 - 31.12.2019

High demographic growth in the Great Lakes increases the competition for scarce natural resources and boosts the demand for affordable housing. The project aims at triggering local economic development, improving working conditions and increasing off-farm employment through climate responsive building material production. Results of the first phase allow for a technology transfer adjusted to local needs and scaling up of the brick production value chains in the region.


Public Private Development Partnership: Social Entrepreneurship Catalytic Impact Financing for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-IMPACT)

01.11.2015 - 01.11.2021

Social entrepreneurs (SE) find innovative, effective and efficient solutions to social problems with a private sector, entrepreneurial approach. ODA funds are scarce and need to be used with leverage. This intervention will leverage social enterprises efforts, impact investors’ capital and local government funds for poverty reduction and improved livelihood of low income households.

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