18 Oct 2016

Smallholders are over 500mln worldwide - this is why CFS43 endorsed policy recommendations

Today, CFS43 endorsed policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets which will play a decisive role in ensuring smallholders can continue support to global food production.

CFS43 and its stakeholders emphasized the potential role that smallholders can play in international markets, the financial and capacity building opportunities as well as the challenges in terms of standards to be met and conditions to be faced.

These recommendations draw on the outcomes of the CFS High-Level Forum on Connecting Smallholders to Markets held in June 2015, are based on existing evidence and aim to encourage good policies and practices.

The recommendations are intended to contribute to meeting the mandate of the Committee to strive for a world free from hunger where countries implement the Voluntary Guidelines for the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security. They complement but do not restate recommendations and relevant guidance previously provided in other CFS products.

Smallholders play an essential role in ensuring food security and nutrition today and in the future, including in the increase in food production needed to meet future global demand. Smallholders are a heterogeneous group across countries and regions, supply 70% of overall food production, and yet at the same time many smallholders themselves still suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition.

Smallholders engage in many interrelated markets, but also face challenges in securing market access and eliciting benefits to support healthy livelihoods. Governments have an essential role to play in addressing their specific constraints and maximizing potential for beneficial access to reliable and remunerative markets.

This will support governments’ efforts to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by providing benefits to the food security and nutrition of smallholders, and to achieving food security and nutrition for all.

Arnold Puech d’Alissac, President, Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d'exploitants Agricoles, speaking on behalf of the farmers’ constituency at CFS43 that connecting all kind of farmers, small, medium and large- scale, in a safe and affordable way to local, national, regional and international markets should be considered as a priority, to be addressed at policy level.



Farmers should be involved in the elaboration of “farmers-sensitive” public policies, promoting inclusive and non- discriminatory market development, supporting credit systems and infrastructure, encouraging transparent pricing of agricultural products. This fair pricing should adequately remunerate farmers’ work and investments.

When addressing the challenge of connecting smallholders to markets, women farmers deserve a special mention. Women comprise an average of 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. Should women farmers have the same access to productive resources as men they could increase yields on their farm by 20-30 percent and undernourishment could decline by 12- 17 percent.

Women smallholders frequently have less opportunities in accessing markets, as a result of several specific constraints. Addressing these is therefore essential to ensure equitable access to markets for smallholders, as well as to maximise the key role that women already play in food security and nutrition.

Training and education programs, targeting specifically women and young farmers, need to be developed and implemented at local, regional and international levels to enhance their skills and to make the agricultural sector more attractive for them. Young farmers are, indeed, the drivers of  the future agriculture and deserve a particular focus in the future policy debates.