Food Coalition

Improving efficiency of local food production by tackling land abandonment and improving farm structure

The COVID-19 pandemic poses significant challenges to already strained rural areas, where most of the world’s food-insecure and poor people live. It is exacerbating complex, long-term crises caused by economic downturn, extreme weather events and the generally low profitability of small-scale family farming. Its implications are making it more challenging to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this context. The associated socio-economic crisis has underlined the importance of enhancing efficiency of local food production and sustainable use of local natural resources for safeguarding food security for all. In Europe and Central Asia, the farm structures in most countries are dominated by small family farms, and land abandonment is widespread. More than one-third of all arable agricultural land in Armenia and North Macedonia, for example, is currently unutilized. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the figure stands at around 45 percent. There are several economic, social and environmental reasons for land abandonment. Farms are small and excessively fragmented, with absent landowners and the overall aging rural population, insecure tenure, degraded land, and a lack of access to irrigation, among other issues. These factors are fueling a downward development spiral and the outmigration of youth from rural areas to urban centers and abroad. In several countries, the number of the agricultural landowners who no longer farm is increasing, resulting in a dearth of decent jobs, persistent rural poverty and a lack of access to nutritious food, alongside the growing untapped potential for local food production and economic livelihoods.

Priority Areas of work: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection to Reduce Poverty
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 15. Life on Land
Level: Regional
Region: Europe and Central Asia
Country: Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Uzbekistan
Budget: USD 2 million


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