The Vredeseilanden vision states that smallholder farmers will be able to feed the 9 billion people by 2050, that they can work themselves out of poverty by doing so, and that they can do so without putting too much pressure on the earth.
To be able to live up to these challenges, Vredeseilanden thinks that farmers will have to organise themselves, that private actors in the food sector like processors, traders and distributors should design their supply chains in such a way that they are inclusive for smallholder farmers and that governments should create an institutional and regulatory environment that enables farmers and chain actors to take up their responsibility.
A new report (Smallholders, Food Security and the Environment), commissioned by the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), shows that most of the 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day live in rural areas and depend largely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
According to the report, an estimated 2.5 billion people who manage 500 million smallholder farm households provide over 80 per cent of the food consumed in much of the developing world, particularly Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Given the right conditions and targeted support, small farmers can unleash a new and sustainable agricultural revolution. To place these smallholders at the forefront of a transformation in world agriculture, they need appropriate support to overcome the many challenges they face.
Among its recommendations, the report advocates for taking into account the needs of the farmers, who advocate for shifting the focus in sustainable agriculture from minimizing the negative impacts of farming on the environment to greater growth opportunities for them. The report also advocates investment in market-based mechanisms that provide smallholders with incentives to invest in sustainability, such as removing subsidies on unsustainable fertilizers or expanding fair or green certification schemes that allow smallholders to compete in new niche markets locally and internationally.