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
- From Subsistence to Profit: Transforming Smallholder Farms
IFPRI Food Policy Report. 2013.
- International Year of Family Farming
IFPRI Blog story. February 5, 2014.
- IFPRI International Year of Family Farming Photolog
- Tanzania: Fast economic transformation, but slow progress for food security and nutrition
DG Corner. April 2014.
- Family farming and women: Exploiting untapped potential
DG Corner. March 2014.
- Building the resilience of smallholders is key
DG Corner. October 2013.
- Investing in Strengthening the Resilience of Smallholder Farmers
IFPRI Panel Discussion. October 21, 2013.
- Saving for a Sunny Day
IFPRI Insights. 2013.
- Ensuring Against Weather
ESSP Research Note. January 2013.
Food price volatility
- Food Security Portal
- Excessive Food Price Variability Early Warning System
- Sudden Onion Price Surge in Bangladesh: A Situation Analysis for Policy
Bangladesh Policy Research and Strategy Support Program study. 2013.
Women's land ownership
- Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project
- Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index Resource Center
- Why We Should Care About Women's Right to Land
Agnes Quisumbing. Devex Land Matters. 5 September 2013.
Access to markets
- The Quiet Revolution in Staple Food Value Chains
IFPRI Book. 2012.
Key External Resources
Transforming smallholder farms
2020 Policy Consultation on Building Resilience Lead Event