Small-scale family farmers are the unsung heroes of the global food system. They produce over a third of the world’s food and are key to climate adaptation, yet new analysis reveals they receive just 0.3% of international climate finance.
Climate change is hitting harvests and driving up food prices across the globe. It has helped push 122 million people into hunger since 2019. We need to create more sustainable and resilient food systems that can feed people in a changing climate, but we can’t do this without family farmers.
Small-scale family farms of less than two hectares produce one-third of the world’s food (32%), while farms of up to five hectares located in developing countries account for more than half of the global production of nine staple crops – rice, peanut, cassava, millet, wheat, potato, maize, barley and rye – and grow almost threequarters of the coffee and 90% of the cocoa.
Family farms are also the backbone of rural economies. Over 2.5 billion people globally depend on family farms for their livelihoods. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where up to 80% of farming is done by smallholder farmers, agriculture contributes 23% to regional GDP.
Family farmers are also key to climate adaptation. They are at the forefront of the shift to more diverse, nature friendly food systems which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is needed to safeguard food security in a changing climate. Many are already practising climate-resilient agriculture, including approaches such as agroecology: growing a wider variety of crops including traditional crops, mixing crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries, reducing chemical inputs, and building strong connections to local markets.