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 a key role in feeding the world's growing population and creating and preserving jobs in rural areas. They can also help to stem migration. In order to stay in business, smallholders need access to stable markets, infrastructure adapted to their needs, and access to education, training and financial and information services. The SDC helps them to adapt to change and to boost production in a sustainable way.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations  defines smallholders as small-scale farmers, pastoralists, forest keepers and fishers who manage areas of less than 10 hectares. Smallholder farms are characterised 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 – Switzerland is convinced that supporting smallholder and family farming contributes to alleviating world hunger and poverty.

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, as well as to new market demands in order to boost and improve their production.

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Current projects

Object 145 – 156 of 158

Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)

01.11.2015 - 31.10.2024

Millions of Afghan women, men and children gained access to services and improved their income since the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund’s initiation (ARTF) in 2002. It also significantly contributed to the Afghan state’s capacity and legitimacy. ARTF constitutes a coordinated financing mechanism for the state's budget (Recurrent Cost Window) and for its priority national investment projects (Investment Window) in the areas of agriculture, rural development, infrastructure, education, health and governance.


Seeds and Access to Markets Project (SAMP) Phase 3

01.10.2015 - 31.12.2021

The project contributes to increased food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers by improving availability of and access to adequate quantities of quality seeds and planting material of suitable and diversified crop varieties. This enables smallholder farmers to produce enough food to sustain themselves, their communities, and earn higher incomes. The project strengthens national and local farmer-led institutions, supports community seed and commodity production and strengthens seed and commodity distribution networks.


Contribution to the Cotton Reform Multi-Donors Trust Fund of the World Bank in Uzbekistan

01.09.2015 - 30.09.2021

The World Bank led multi-donor trust fund will contribute to a sustainable cotton reform by thoroughly monitoring child and forced labour during cotton harvest, building the capacities of relevant authorities in terms of international standards and legislaion, raising awareness of the population and the stakeholders' groups involved in cotton picking. This will feed into policy dialogue with the Government and eventually eradicate this harmful practice for the rural population.


Kenya resilient arid lands partnerships for integrated development (Kenya RAPID)

01.08.2015 - 31.05.2021

Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environments of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). This programme supports the historically marginalized pastoralist communities of Northern Kenya, bordering Somalia and Ethiopia, with improved access to water (for both livestock and domestic use) and improved rangelands management through water infrastructure, strengthened public and private institutions and policy frameworks.


Innovation and dissemination of technologies for adaptation of agriculture to climate change – AGRIADAPTA

01.07.2015 - 31.12.2022

10'000 families in 19 municipalities of the country improve their food security and their situation of poverty by practising sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. The Project will provide resources so that small-hold farmers in environmentally degraded dry areas affected by climate change and variability develop capacities, exchange knowledge and apply technologies for climate change adaptation.


Contribution to the Pan African Bean Research Alliance PABRA

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2021

The greatest global challenge today is how to ensure food and nutrition security of a rapidly growing human population, considering climate change and without adversely affecting the natural base upon which the production is dependent. Beans, as the most important consumed grain legume, are a very good source of vitamins, minerals, and plant derived micronutrients. Significant yield increase of more than 60% are possible, following access to and use of improved varieties coupled with integrated crop management practices.



Programme d’Appui au Secteur de l’Elevage au Mali – PASEM

01.12.2014 - 31.05.2021

Malgré son importance dans l’économie, l’environnement et les sociétés (agro)pastorales, l’élevage rencontre plusieurs contraintes dont la faible productivité, l’insécurité foncière, la faible organisation des acteurs et une forme de marginalisation sociale des éleveurs. La DDC souhaite valoriser les immenses potentialités de l’élevage en renforçant l’approche chaine de valeurs orientée vers le développement des marchés et des acteurs du secteur privé, favorisant la prise en compte des pauvres, des femmes et des jeunes.


IGAD-FAO Partnership Programme (PP) on Building Resilience for (Agro-) Pastoralist Communities

01.06.2014 - 31.08.2021

IGAD and FAO will jointly contribute to build resilience of communities in the Horn of Africa’s cross-border areas by addressing marketing and trade, transboundary animal diseases and natural resources management. It will also contribute to strengthen the capacity of IGAD specialized agencies to lead the regional agenda for the improvement of cross-border pastoral livelihoods.


Institutional Strengthening of IGAD

31.05.2014 - 30.06.2021

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is a sub-regional organization in the Horn of Africa. In line with Switzerland’s decision to increase its engagement with IGAD, the proposed contribution aims at strengthening the organization institutionally based on its political legitimacy, thematic relevance and capacity to contribute to peace and development in one of the world’s most fragile regions.


Programme d’Appui aux Filières Agropastorales de Sikasso – PAFA

01.06.2013 - 30.04.2021

La DDC soutient le Conseil Régional de Sikasso et les partenaires privés locaux dans l’amélioration des conditions cadres pour le développement des filières pomme de terre et lait. Les appuis apportés contribueront à une meilleure organisation des différents segments de ces filières, de la production au marché et à la valorisation locale des produits au profit des petits producteurs et transformateurs. A terme, plus de 360'000 personnes assureront leur sécurité alimentaire et réduiront leur pauvreté.


Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development - Research Module on Ecosystems

15.05.2013 - 31.12.2023

Enhancing sustainable and climate-friendly use and management of ecosystems for human well-being is at the core of a new research module in the context of SDC’s and the Swiss National Science Foundation’s (SNSF) joint r4d Program (Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development; www.r4d.ch). Researchers from Switzerland with their partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America will jointly generate new insights and develop innovative concepts and tools for a more sustainable and equitable provision of ecosystem services benefiting the poor.

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