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Policy Support and Governance
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Empowering the Rural Poor

One in five people in developing countries live on less than US$1.9 a day. Seventy-five percent of these people live in rural areas. They depend directly on small-scale farming, forest resources, livestock and fishing for their subsistence..

Reducing rural poverty by empowering people.

Investing in people, and strengthening producer organizations and rural institutions, is key to developing a more inclusive agricultural sector. Such investments have enormous potential to generate economic growth that is equitable and reduces rural poverty.

FAO is working with member states and partners in the design and implementation of rural development and poverty reduction strategies. This work focuses on increasing poor rural household’s access to knowledge and technology, advisory and financial services, and decent employment. It also involves increasing their ability to manage natural resources; connecting them into agricultural and food value chains to improve access to markets; and enhancing social protection.

Key policy messages


  • Policies must support and strengthen rural institutions, in particular producer organizations, cooperatives and networks. Improving the organization of small-scale producers enhances dialogue with government agencies and private stakeholders; strengthens the collective voice of farmers, pastoralists or fisherfolks; and increases their access to agricultural markets, savings and credit facilities, and needed information.
  • Experience has shown that empowering small-scale rural producers can lead to major reductions in rural poverty. Policies must facilitate self-management of land and productive resources, and increase access to social and financial services, as well as national and export markets. Addressing gender inequalities in each of these areas is particularly important.
  • There is an urgent need to increase small-scale rural producer’s access to technology, agricultural knowledge and market information. Policies should seek to improve and expand rural education possibilities for men and women, utilizing modern information technology and innovation in the provision of advisory services.
  • Market and trade policies must benefit small-scale farmers, fisher folk, pastoralists, and forest-dependent communities. This will help drive development, strengthen food security, reduce poverty and maximize environmental sustainability. Preserving flexibility in national policy options allows developing countries to balance the needs of poor consumers and rural producers.
  • Empowering the rural poor is critical to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by 2030. Access and empowerment issues are particularly important to achieve the Goal 1 targets on eradicating extreme poverty, reducing those living in poverty by at least half, and ensuring equitable rights to access resources.

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