Устойчивое производство продовольствия и ведение сельского хозяйства

Safeguarding smallholders across regions: policies and actions to address the COVID-19 crisis

A range of novel, concrete and locally focussed initiatives are required to protect smallholders’ production systems and livelihoods from the impacts of COVID-19
30 July 2020

COVID-19 impacts on smallholders

The livelihoods of smallholders - including family farmers, pastoralists, forest keepers, and fishers and other small-scale food producers - are under threat by the COVID-19 pandemic, and require a set of calibrated and consistent responses.

Smallholders already face a range of continuous challenges including lack of infrastructure, facilities, services and finance or policy support and these have been further exacerbated by limited access to markets, reduced inputs for production, scarce and unreliable availability of labour, and absence of a coordinated response that could ensure health and safety against the pandemic, as well as providing  mitigation measures to address the limitations on the ground. Smallholders from across all regions of the world have all been affected in unprecedented ways by the pandemic.

Smallholders’ contribution to agriculture and food security

This is a matter of serious concern, as smallholders are the backbone of agriculture and food security in developing countries, where, according to FAO estimates, smallholder farming provides up to 70 percent of national food production and women make up, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labour forces.

Smallholders are diverse and, as key investors in the agricultural sector, generate business and employment opportunities for the rural economy. Therefore, although the problems engendered by the crisis may be different for the various types of smallholder occupations, the food security of many across the globe will depend upon how the current emergency affects smallholders.

Policies and actions to support smallholders

FAO has developed a comprehensive COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme which focuses on seven distinct yet interlinked areas that will need resource mobilisation and coordinated efforts to support the post-pandemic recovery in the food and agriculture sector. 

Two of the programmes focus on safeguarding smallholders’ production across regions, building resilience, promoting social protections, strengthening inputs and markets, as well as nature-based solutions at the local level. These two programmes, Boosting Smallholder Resilience for Recovery and Economic Inclusion and Social Protection to Reduce Poverty have been prepared for supporting a collective and action-oriented response to support the livelihoods and production systems of smallholders, while ensuring a sustainable recovery. They have benefitted from direct country-level assessments from the regions on the impact of COVID-19 on food systems and, in particular, on the small-scale food producers. 

The key messages for policies and actions received from the regions are summarised as follows:

  • COVID-19 is disrupting smallholder food production and livelihoods worldwide. The impact is amplified by pre-existing challenges, including poor infrastructure, lack of access to agricultural inputs, markets, services and resources, in addition to climate change, conflicts, and food and nutrition insecurity;
  • impact on smallholders directly affects food security, as they produce a majority of the world’s food, and are key in providing healthy, diversified and culturally appropriate diets; 
  • countries must support smallholders through immediate policy measures, innovations and actions to minimize disruption to production, harvest and distribution while ensuring that they adhere to the health and safety precautions;
  • countries should encourage local food production based on sustainable agriculture practices, promote diversification and nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits and animal-source foods and local food systems for smallholder communities to overcome the impacts of the pandemic, and build resilience against similar threats in the future;
  • digital solutions designed to share information, raise awareness and facilitate marketing and trade should be promoted and made widely available;
  • the burden on smallholder women is particularly heavy. Countries must ensure that actions specifically target the needs and conditions of women farmers, given also the informal economic environment within which smallholders often operate;
  • the COVID-19 emergency underscores the need for developing sustainable, resilient agrifood systems while protecting natural resources and taking into account context-specific risks across sectors;
  • the importance of partnerships and knowledge-sharing is greater than ever. Synergistic coordination and solidarity must be increased at local and national levels to develop responsive strategies across and within governments and communities.

Поделитесь ссылкой на эту страницу