Food Coalition

Boosting Smallholder Resilience for Recovery

Smallholder farmers, who are mostly family farmers in Asia and the Pacific account for more than 70 percent of the world’s 510 million small farms, contribute to 36 percent of the world’s food and produce the region’s 80 percent of milk and 80-90 percent of aquaculture. Yet, many of them are among the region’s 400 million extreme poor and the almost one billion people who experience moderate or severe food insecurity. Furthermore, male outmigration has led to a gradual feminization and aging of agriculture workers, increased risk of child labour to fill the labour shortage. Globally, women contribute up to 85 percent of the work on farms but receive barely 20 percent of the family’s farming income.The COVID-19 pandemic severely affects smallholders who face persistent challenges, such as limited access to quality inputs, credit and market; natural resources degradation, land and tenure insecurity, inability to meet stringent food safety and quality standards for diversification toward higher value products, and rising multiple risks (of natural hazards, climate change, pest and diseases as well as conflict). With income drop, lack of credit and restricted movements, many smallholders are not in a position to buy the necessary inputs or have to resort to prioritizing buying food today over planting seeds for tomorrow. This puts the next season’s crop at risk and threatens subsequent food shortages, as seen through a sharp decline in demand for seed. In a survey of seed companies in the region, 93 percent reported a drop in demand for vegetable seed and about 75 percent reported declining demand for flower seed.  In addition, disruptions to the food supply chain, combined with lack of storage and cooling facilities, have resulted in large amounts of produce being left unharvested or wasted. Restrictions such as those that stopped livestock movements and trade from Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and Cambodia to China have left many smallholders in these countries unable to sell their livestock. Small fish farmers and traders, a large portion of them are women, suffered business losses because they could not sell their fish or were forced to sell at low prices due to a high volume of fish sales dependent on tourism and exports.Shortage of labour also occurred during harvest season, including for the non-timber forest products (collection period. Additionally, return of millions migrants put additional pressure on remittance dependent livelihoods, further impacting food security and natural resources. Rapid land diversification occurs for immediate food self-sufficiency. While benefiting food security in the short to medium term, this has triggered a sudden increase in groundwater extraction and consumption. Consequently, local water security is declining. Exploitation of forests and other natural resources is also rising threatening the region’s already degraded ecosystems. As the pandemic evolves, the region has been hit by a locust outbreak, cyclones, floods and transboundary diseases such fall army worm, while not yet recovered from the impacts of African swine fever and previous disasters such as the drought in Afghanistan.

Priority Areas of work: Boosting Smallholder Resilience for Recovery
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 13. Climate Action, 15. Life on Land
Level: Regional
Region: Asia and the Pacific
Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Timor-Leste
Budget: USD 80 million


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