FAO Investment Centre

Keeping up with a rapidly changing world


Farmers increasingly face disruptive changes, including a rise in digital technologies, rigorous food safety requirements, shifting diets, climate change and pandemics like COVID-19.

They need to be able to analyse, innovate and adapt to keep up with this rapidly changing environment. But what’s the best way to invest in strengthening the skills and capacities of small-scale farmers so they can respond to today’s agrifood challenges and opportunities?

Seeking answers to this and other questions, the Centre embarked on a year-long global study with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets and the FAO Research and Extension Unit.

Investing in Farmers: Agriculture Human Capital Investment Strategies showcases the study’s findings, including recent trends like shifts in financing and increased digitalization. The study looks at successful initiatives in Cameroon, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru, Rwanda and the United States of America. It also includes 11 shorter cases, ranging from pastoralist training centres to the inclusion of indigenous communities.

The study found that investing in farmers can contribute to increased rural incomes, better health and nutrition, social cohesion and greater inclusion of women and youth in economic activities.

In Peru, for example, local community promoters known as Yachachiq help boost the productive and entrepreneurial capacities of small-scale farmers by combining new skills with ancestral knowledge. Since 2013, the Haku Wiñay/Noa Jayatai programme – meaning ‘let’s grow together’ in Quechua and Shipibo-Conibo, respectively – has reached more than 300 000 agricultural households and invested more than USD 500 million.

In India, women master trainers and community service providers not only gained technical expertise in livestock farming but also developed greater self-reliance, gender equity, empowerment and recognition in their communities.

Rwanda is seeing good results since mainstreaming farmer-to-farmer learning in its Twigire Muhinzi national agricultural extension system, which also uses farmer field schools. The system is helping Rwandan farmers sharpen their skills and knowledge, leading to greater uptake of technologies and practices that can improve their livelihoods and incomes.

Findings from the global report and individual case studies were shared with wider audiences during regional events, including in Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean. These reports and a forthcoming toolkit and thematic investment briefs on digital agriculture, economic analysis, private sector and youth aim to guide governments, IFIs and other partners on investments and programmes to strengthen farmers’ capacities.

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