This year is International Year of the Family Farm, and two recent reports, from United Nations and European constituencies, make the case for a return of support for smallholder farmers.
The reports argue that an empowered population of smallholder farmers is a more direct route to alleviate poverty and restore depleted environments. They acknowledge that smallholder households are a huge human resource equipped with local knowledge which should be recognised for their contribution to food supply and local environmental management, and suggest that international aid needs to focus on helping smallholder farmers to improve their agriculture skills and water and land management.
Hunger and malnutrition are mainly related to lack of purchasing power and/or inability of rural poor to be self-sufficient. Meeting the food security challenge is thus primarily about empowerment of the poor … the world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development from conventional, monoculture-based industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems … the fundamental transformation of agriculture may well turn out to be one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.
UNCTD Trade and Environment Review 2013