Smallholder production a powerful tool to achieve sustainable global development

©FAO/Roberto Cenciarelli 17 July 2018, Rome - The gross annual value of smallholder production worldwide is some 60 percent greater than that of the world’s 10 largest food companies combined, demonstrating the significance of small producers, said a report launched Tuesday at World Forest Week.

According to the report, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — one of four partners in the FAO-based Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) — production from the world’s 1.5 billion smallholders together was valued at between USD 869 billion and USD 1.29 trillion measured in 2017 dollars. This helps to demonstrate why the role of these small producers should be recognized and supported by authorities, said the report ‘The world’s largest private sector? Recognizing the cumulative economic value of small-scale forest and farm producers’.

"The report, which measured the combined value of smallholder crops, fuelwood and charcoal, timber, and non-wood forest products, helps to show the power of small producers and their crucial role in helping to achieve sustainable global development", said Jeffrey Campbell, Manager of FFF. In addition to IUCN, the other three partners in FFF are FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and AgriCord.

The report was released during a World Forest Week event titled ‘The scale of forest and farm producers' contributions to sustainable development: What we know and what we don’t’. During the event, discussions included FFF’s first five years of activity, which recently concluded. Its Phase II is now being launched and will see FFF continue its global work programme supporting forest and farm producers and their organizations. 

In its conclusion, the report on smallholders said that as decision-makers become more aware of the important role smallholders play in rural, national and global economies, they should closely consider how to better support them.

“As the world develops policies and strategies for growth, it is critical that the needs of local communities, family farmers and smallholders, as well as indigenous peoples and small-scale enterprises should be front and center", said Campbell. “Just imagine how much more of an impact these producers and their organizations could have if they received more support, whether that's in the form of developing markets, gaining better access to financing, or coaching in marketing new products".

Participants at Tuesday’s event agreed with the report’s call for continued collection of data related to small producers, to better understand the links between smallholders, landscapes and markets which would, in turn, inform effective policies that empower smallholders to secure their means of production.

last updated:  Tuesday, July 17, 2018