Economía Agroalimentaria

Farms, family farms, farmland distribution and farm labour: What do we know today?

FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Paper 19-08
Año: 2019
Autor(es): Lowder, S.K., Sánchez, M.V. & Bertini, R.

A better and more complete understanding of family farms is urgently needed to guide policy makers’ efforts towards achieving a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This paper takes stock of the number of farms worldwide, and their distribution and that of farmland, on the basis of agricultural censuses and survey data. Thus, it shows that there are more than 608 million farms in the world. Rough estimates also indicate that more than 90 percent of these farms are family farms (by our definition) occupying around 70–80 percent of farmland and producing about 80 percent of the world’s food in value terms. We underscore the importance of not referring to family farms and small farms (i.e., those of less than 2 hectares) interchangeably: the latter account for 84 percent of all farms worldwide, but operate only around 12 percent of all agricultural land, and produce roughly 36 percent of the world’s food. The largest 1 percent of farms in the world operate more than 70 percent of the world’s farmland. The stark differences between family farms, in terms of size, their share in farmland distribution, and their patterns across income groups and regions, make clear the importance of properly defining different types of farms and distinguishing their differences when engaging in policy discourse and decision making towards the SDGs. The paper also considers evidence on labour and age provided by the censuses. There is a need to improve agricultural censuses if we want to deepen our understanding of farms.

Tipo de documento: Documento de trabajo
Región: Global
ISBN: 978-92-5-131970-3
ISSN: 2521-1838