Smallholder farmers throughout the developing world rely on crops or livestock for income and food security. In fact, smallholder farms make up the vast majority (80%) of farms in the African continent, with approximately 33 million small farms of less than two hectares as of 2009.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has discussed the potential of smallholder farmers in developing countries to contribute to increased food production and to lower the gap between actual and economically attainable food production.
Improving the welfare for smallholder farmers has the potential to improve agricultural productivity and resulting levels of poverty.
Challenges facing smallholder farmers
Despite the growing need for food in both developed and developing countries, smallholder farmers face a number of challenges, from pest and disease outbreaks to animal diseases to poor rural infrastructure and limited access to credit.
There are particular challenges for women, who play a key role in agriculture but face constraints including owning smaller farms, which affects their access to credit using land as collateral, or being less educated, which limits their access to technical information for enhancing production.
Intensifying climate change, ongoing conflict, as well as population displacement all pose increasing and persistent threats to food security. Improving year-round food availability, and boosting resilience for households—often headed up by women alone and even children—is essential.
AIR conducts rigorous impact evaluations of agricultural development projects to better understand how various types of programs can improve smallholder farmer income and food and nutrition security.
Our current work includes projects in Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, India, Madagascar, Mali, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Explore our food security work from our colleagues at Kimetrica:
- In East and West Africa, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) project provides near real-time analysis on famine threats.
- The Food Security Third Party Monitoring (FSTPM) project provides critical, near real-time analysis to support targeting of life-saving support in some of the world’s most crisis-prone locations.
- Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) project uses digital technologies in agriculture to increase small-scale farmer incomes, boost resilience, improve food availability.
- Ethiopia's Recurring Monitoring Study for USAID’s Livelihoods for Resilience (L4R) project supports and enhances livelihood opportunities for chronically food-insecure households in targeted areas.