Small-scale farmers are development priority, says new report

By agency reporter
August 17, 2009

The world’s 1.4 billion small-scale farmers must be prioritised for support and investment if the world is to boost food production by 70 per cent over the next 40 years, the international development charity Progressio declares.

The call follows the release last week of Food 2030, a series of government-backed reports into current and future food production and consumption. Though primarily UK focused, Food 2030 highlights the need for a massive increase in the volume of food produced globally by 2050 to help feed a predicted global population of 9 billion.

Petra Kjell, Progressio’s Environmental Policy Officer comments: “The vast majority of the world’s poor people rely on food grown by small-scale farmers who provide the bulk of staple foods for domestic markets – and this on a relatively small share of the world’s 1.5 billion hectares of agricultural land. Yet, despite their significant contribution, they are deprived of investment, technical support, land and access to vital resources such as water. This is in addition to the considerable challenges they face due to climate change.”

Last year, (2008) a study initiated by the World Bank and endorsed by the UK government called for radical changes in world farming to avert increasing regional food shortages, escalating prices and growing environmental problems. In the resulting report, more than 400 scientists concluded that the world cannot afford to continue with a “business as usual” approach to global agriculture and highlighted the importance of small-scale farming in securing global food security.

“If we are to meet the very real challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050, we need a more localised food system which is resilient to global shocks, socially just and environmentally sustainable – one in which local people control how food is produced, stored and distributed”, says Petra Kjell. “That means supporting small-scale farmers like Carlos Ruiz in Ecuador, who grows enough food for himself and his family whilst also managing to sell a great deal of his produce at the local market.”

“Progressio works with farmers like Carlos around the world and we see every day how they can – and already do – play a significant part in feeding the world’s hungry and building long-term global food security. With fairer access to markets and better support, their vital role in feeding the world’s people could be even greater. We ignore small-scale farmers at our peril.”

Progressio is "an international charity with Catholic roots that enables poor communities to solve their own problems through support from skilled workers. And we lobby decision-makers to change policies that keep people poor." It was formerly the Catholic Institute for International Relations.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.