Smallholder Farming

Smallholder family farming—small farms that rely mainly on family labor—is the backbone of agricultural production in developing countries. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), four-fifths of the developing world’s food is a product of small-sized farms. Small, family-run farms are also home to the majority of people living in absolute poverty, and half of the world’s undernourished people. For this reason, supporting family farms is crucial to IFPRI’s mission to provide research-based policy solutions that sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition.

However, as a recent IFPRI Food Policy Report states, smallholders are not a homogeneous group. Some have the potential to become profitable in agriculture. Others should be supported to leave agriculture and seek nonfarm employment opportunities.

IFPRI research is helping find ways that family and smallholder farmers can prepare for, adapt to, and recover from a number of challenges, from climate change and price volatility to lack of land tenure and limited access to finance. By overcoming these challenges, smallholder family farmers can rise from subsistence to profitable farming, and help feeding the world’s hungry.

Key IFPRI Resources

By topic

Climate change

Food price volatility

Women's land ownership

Access to markets

All IFPRI work related to smallholder farming

Key External Resources