Agriculture / Food Security / Report

Closing the agricultural yield gap: Small-scale farmers in developing countries are where it’s at

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Ugandan smallholder farm landscape (photo credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT).

A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls for ‘more nuanced policy-making to boost smallholder farm output, requiring better knowledge of individual farm households and the constraints they face, to be able to target investments and policy support where they are needed to ensure that they can sell surpluses from their harvests. . . .

Small-scale agriculture is the main source of food in the developing world, producing up to 80 percent of the food consumed in many developing countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia,” the report states. “Smallholders and small family farms are therefore central to an inclusive development process and their contribution is crucial to food security,” it adds.

‘Yet, in sub-Saharan Africa, the yield gap between farmers’ yields and potential yields is estimated at 76 percent, meaning farmers produce less than one quarter of what they could. In Central America and the Caribbean, the yield gap is 65 percent, meaning smallholders produce less than a third of their potential yield. In developing countries, the yield gap is often higher than 50 percent.

‘High food prices are seen by many policy-makers as an opportunity for smallholders to produce more and earn more income. But experience shows that, often, smallholders have failed to respond as expected. . . .’

Read the whole article from the website of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization: Linking farmers to moving markets, 3 Jul 2013.

Read the report: Smallholder integration in changing food markets, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2013.

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