Ninety percent of the 570 million farms globally are small-scale operations (defined in terms of low economic output rather than land holding size (which would describe a smallholder instead)) which together are responsible for a significant proportion of total agricultural production. Thus, understanding and incorporating the perspectives and knowledge of small-scale farmers in policies and practices is crucial for achieving sustainable agriculture development.
The Small Farmer Atlas, published by Solidaridad, aims to do just that based on survey data from 10,000 small-scale farmers in 18 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America farming bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, oil palm, soybeans, sugarcane and tea. The results suggest that working in a lengthy, export-oriented commodity chain is detrimental for small farmers. Many are dissatisfied with a lack of resilient profits, often have difficulty accessing export markets, and worry about sufficient access to and protection of natural resources (especially in the face of climate change). Overall, greater focus should be placed on systemic changes that promote greater profits, access to and protection of natural resources, and other benefits for small farmers.
Solidaridad (2023). Small Farmer Atlas. Elevating the voice of small-scale farmers in high value markets.