Challenge 4: Smallholder agriculture within transforming food systems
Rapid urbanisation and expanding urban food markets provide opportunities for smallholder farmers to engage more with markets. To support an inclusive participation of smallholders, agricultural policies and interventions need to recognise and lower existing barriers to participation. Translating science to inform policy in this development is the overall objective of Challenge 4.
Challenges and opportunities for smallholders in emerging food systems – policy and practice to support rural-urban dynamics.
Several major trends are presently creating both challenges and opportunities for rural and structural transformation of smallholder agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South-East Asia. These include rapid population growth, economic growth, urbanisation, and fragmented and declining farm sizes. Linked to these developments are trends towards modernisation, generational change, and changing patterns of migration in which young people increasingly aspire to leave agriculture. Growing land pressures, poor agricultural policy guidance, insecure land rights, and unsustainable agricultural intensification practices add to problems of land degradation, low farm productivity and profitability.
These trends need to be situated in relation to smallholder livelihoods that historically, but also increasingly, combine rural and urban sources of food and income. However, geographic differences are significant, where areas of rapid urbanisation and growth stand in contrast to depopulating regions with slow growth. Within regions, both dynamic and stagnant ones, social and economic differences between smallholder units are also significant in terms of productivity and profitability.
This AgriFoSe2030 challenge aims to enhance the understanding of social and economic processes in the smallholder communities of contrasting regional and local context and to provide science-based guidance in the design of policies and practices, sensitive to geographic and socioeconomic contexts supporting small scale farmers’ livelihoods. Important focus areas include current trends in farm size distribution patterns as well as questions of gender and generational sensitivity and social inclusiveness in relation to smallholders’ access to land, financial capital, extension services, and input and output markets.