Women farmers in Democratic Republic of Congo
Small scale agriculture

The vast majority of farmers around the world are small-scale farmers. They help create wealth and employment, and fulfil a number of functions in food production and land use planning. Thus, the response to the food challenge requires support for farming families, the main source of food for populations in the South.

In the last 30 years, small-scale agriculture has often been neglected in official development assistance and agricultural policies in the South, as well as in the discourse of international institutions. Indeed, in most of these countries, small-scale agriculture has not had the same access to public resources as agribusiness. Most of the agriculture budget, which in any event is already small compared to other items in the budget (education, health, etc.), is used to support agribusinesses, large operations that that require large sums of capital. When it comes to access to credit or land, for example, policy decisions automatically tend to favour the latter.

While it has long had an image problem in the eyes of decision-makers in the South, small-scale agriculture is now seen in a more positive light: it produces higher yields per hectare, is more labour-intensive, and is more resistant to climatic hazards. This form of agriculture has an enormous role to play in reducing poverty and hunger. However, this change in perspective is unlikely to result in practical changes to public policy; the marginalisation of small producers and the rural exodus continue.