The agricultural economics literature provides various estimates of the number of farms and small farms in the world. This paper is an effort to provide a more complete and up to date as well as carefully documented estimate of the total number of farms in the world, as well as by region and level of income.
It uses data from numerous rounds of the World Census of Agriculture, the only dataset available which allows the user to gain a complete picture of the total number of farms globally and at the country level. The paper provides estimates of the number of family farms, the number of farms by size as well as the distribution of farmland by farm size.
These estimates find that: there are at least 570 million farms worldwide, of which more than 500 million can be considered family farms. Most of the world’s farms are very small, with more than 475 million farms being less than 2 hectares in size. Although the vast majority of the world’s farms are smaller than 2 hectares, they operate only a small share of the world’s farmland. Farmland distribution would seem quite unequal at the global level, but it is less so in low- and lower-middle-income countries as well as in some regional groups.
These estimates have serious limitations and the collection of more up-to-date agricultural census data, including data on farmland distribution is essential to our having a more representative picture of the number of farms, the number of family farms and farm size as well as farmland distribution worldwide.
Brief based on the online discussion, held from 4 to 26 February 2013, facilitated by FAO’s Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum) with FAO’s Forestry Department in the context of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition.
Note from the United Nations System High Level Task Force on Global Food Security
The purpose of this study is to analyze the economic effects of land reform policies in Tajikistan on the country’s agricultural sector and rural households. There is a conspicuous lack of evidence-based policy dialogue with the government on the effectiveness of land and agricultural policies in Tajikistan. Though the majority of rural inhabitants live in poverty and many are food insecure, a scientifically proper evaluation of the effects of land and farm policy reforms has yet to be done. The present study is an attempt to fill this void by offering a description of land reform and an analysis of its economic consequences in Tajikistan.