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 61 – 72 of 154

Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Africa

01.08.2018 - 31.07.2026

Today, only 12 plant species and five animal species provide more than 75 percent of all human food. Quality seed and maintaining the agrobiodiversity are key concerns for food security and nutrition. Aiming at enhancing access of smallholders to quality seed of their choice, the Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa programme combines public and private efforts. With its contribution and policy work, SDC supports healthy food systems, as well in fragile contexts.


Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa (ISSD Africa)

01.08.2018 - 31.08.2022

Smallholders in Africa need to have access to affordable quality seeds. The Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa project assesses critical factors of the seed sector in the continent and offers innovative solutions that respond to the diversity of needs of African smallholders, bringing together the assets of informal, intermediary and formal seed systems. Through its existing seed sector related engagement, SDC is well placed to support policies at country and African Union levels.


Solar irrigation for Agriculture Resilience (SoLAR)

01.08.2018 - 31.12.2023

Farmers increasingly rely on irrigation to counter rising temperature and rainfall variability, leading to growth in energy demand and depletion of groundwater resources. The project aims to promote solar irrigation as a water-energy solution for climate-resilient and socially inclusive agrarian livelihoods in South Asia. Swiss innovation in groundwater monitoring through electricity use, efficient solar pumps and smart micro grids will be applied in the partner countries.


Programme de Développement des Infrastructures Économiques et Marchandes au Bénin (PDIEM)

01.07.2018 - 30.06.2022

La phase 1 du PDIEM a rénové 6 infrastructures économiques et marchandes d’importance nationale/régionale, pour dynamiser l’économie locale. Le gouvernement a demandé de répliquer ce projet à d’autres endroits. En cofinancement avec les communes et l’Etat, la phase 2 rénove 4 autres infrastructures, intégrant la gestion des déchets. Les revenus contribueront à entretenir les marchés, les taxes générées seront réinvesties pour des services publics améliorant les conditions de vie.


Renforcement de l’élevage pastoral au Tchad (PREPAS)

01.07.2018 - 30.06.2021

L’élevage pastoral est une activité économique capitale dans la zone sahélo-saharienne dont les indices de pauvreté sont très élevés au Tchad. Ce mode de vie est cependant fragilisé par les aléas climatiques provoquant crises pastorales et transhumances précoces, sources de nombreux conflits. Afin de renforcer la résilience des éleveurs, la DDC finance un projet qui valorise les ressources pastorales, en favorisant leur accès à l’eau, créant des couloirs de transhumance et améliorant l’offre de services en santé.


Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Phase 2

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

Land governance remains at the centre of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), and land expropriation is a key driver of new poverty and food insecurity. The governments in the region have begun to turn their attention to legal and policy issues on land governance. This creates an opportunity for MRLG and the Reform Actors it brings together, to contribute to improvements in policies and practices regarding land tenure security for family farmers.


Backstopping SDC Climate Change and Environment (CC&E) Network

01.07.2018 - 30.06.2022

A climate smart development cooperation requires continuous knowledge management and a sound thematic expertise. The next phase of the Backstopping Support Mandate (BSM) will help to capitalize on SDC’s key learnings, stimulate capacity building, foster mainstreaming and provide thematic support in the field of climate change and environment This will allow the SDC Climate Change and Environment Network and the Global Programme Climate Change (GPCCE) help improve the overall quality of SDC’s operational activities in this thematic field.


Climate Resilience of IFAD Programmes

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

The International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD is a key partner for Switzerland in the efforts to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. However, climate change is putting the success of the IFAD’s development programmes at risk. Switzerland supports the integration in all IFAD projects of measures that respond to potential climate threats into all IFAD projects. As a result, farmers become more resilient and Swiss investments through IFAD more sustainable.


Reducing Food Losses through Improved Post Harvest Management in Ethiopia

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

Ethiopia continues to experience high post-harvest losses around 30% annually due to inappropriate use of technologies and mal-practices. Building up on the success stories and knowledge gained from SDC’s long-term engagement in post-harvest management and lessons learnt from the first phase, the second phase aims at promoting affordable and effective on-farm storage technologies and management practices to reduce post-harvest losses for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.


"Bai Alai" Small Business and Income Creation in Alai and Chon-Alai

01.06.2018 - 31.05.2022

The remote Alai and Chon Alai disctricts of mountainous Southwest Kyrgyzstan are struck by a very high incidence of poverty, low levels of economic production and limited income generation opportunities. The project will increase economic inclusion of producing households by fostering development of local production in cattle, apiculture, tourism and handcraft sectors. Producers and entrepreneurs in these sectors will be linked to respective markets hence imporving their value chains. 


Nutrition in Mountainous Agro-Ecosystems (NMA)

01.06.2018 - 31.10.2021

A disproportionally high number of the world's 2 billion hungriest and chronically malnourished people reside in mountain regions. As a mountain country, Switzerland supports the Mountain Agro ecology Action Network to make Rural Service Providers in 8 mountain countries competent regarding nutrition. They shall adapt their services to actively contribute for improving nutrition for half a million people, particularly women and children.


Opérationnalisation de la filière semencière au Tchad

01.05.2018 - 30.11.2023

Au Tchad, le système de production agricole est rudimentaire et les rendements sont faibles. Le pays est régulièrement confronté à l’insécurité alimentaire. La semence est le principal intrant utilisé par les agriculteurs. C’est pourquoi, la DDC contribue à faciliter l’accès à des semences de qualité et adaptées à leur environnement. Ce programme permet aux exploitations familiales d’améliorer leur production et leur revenu et développe l’auto-emploi des femmes et des jeunes grâce à la multiplication de semences.

Object 61 – 72 of 154