Production, advisory services and marketing

Two men working in a field, a third stands at the edge of the field with a notebook in his hand, watching.
The SDC promotes smallholder and family farms and as part of its work is committed to ensuring they have access to advice and innovative practices. © SDC

According to United Nations forecasts, the world's population will be around 9 billion by 2050. Managing natural resources responsibly while increasing food production is therefore a top priority. The SDC is already active in supporting sustainable agriculture, smallholder farms and research, with a particular emphasis on women and young people.

The SDC's focus

The SDC sees the potential in smallholder and family farms to reduce hunger and malnutrition. Thus the SDC promotes improved access for smallholder farmers to productive resources, facilitates advice tailored to their needs and assists them with marketing.

The SDC particularly endeavours to promote women as producers and market participants. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), women perform a substantial proportion of agricultural work – around 50% in Africa and Asia. However, they often do not have adequate access to land and productive resources, so their crop yields are around 20–30% lower than men's. According to the FAO, empowering women could reduce hunger in developing countries by as much as 17%. To make use of this untapped potential and facilitate market access for women and young people, the SDC supports services targeted specifically at female smallholder farmers and the transfer of knowledge on production enhancement techniques.

The SDC also recognises the importance of good education and training for young farmers of both genders, and supports education and training programmes to this end.

Research, innovation and advisory services

Innovation in agriculture and advisory services geared to the needs of smallholder farmers are key to eradicating poverty and hunger. The SDC is committed to this approach. Areas targeted for innovation and advisory services include plant cultivation, animal husbandry, markets, financing and partnerships with the private sector.

Representing the concerns of smallholder farmers in policy dialogue

The SDC is involved in forging an international framework that supports smallholder agriculture, in order to improve access to productive resources such as capital, seeds, land and water for smallholder farmers worldwide. Among other things, it participates in the development of seed regulations and international trade provisions. The SDC also works to strengthen farmer organisations so that they can offer their members better services and represent their concerns more effectively at a political level.

Agroecology for sustainable production

To boost production while also promoting the responsible use of natural resources on smallholder farms, the SDC supports forms of agriculture that adhere to the FAO's Elements of Agroecology. This entails conserving natural resources with virtually no need for external inputs such as pesticides and fertilisers. Compost, for instance, reuses nutrients and biomass, and maintains soil fertility. A good mix of arable and livestock production not only preserves biodiversity but also provides the variety of food necessary for a healthy diet. In Africa, for example, the SDC supports the African Union's initiative to mainstream ecological agriculture into national production systems by 2025.

Improvements along the entire value chain

The SDC works with farmers, advisers, the private sector and policymakers to establish business models that benefit the poorest and ease the participation for smallholder farmers in the market. The main objective is to increase productivity sustainably and ensure equal participation in agricultural value chains by means of better marketing opportunities. A primary focus for the SDC is reducing harvest and post-harvest losses along production, distribution and consumption channels. This means raising awareness that food systems extend from agricultural production through to consumption, via storage, distribution and marketing. This is to be considered as a basis for sustainable forms of agriculture. Through such cooperation, the SDC also promotes access to affordable and healthy agricultural produce for all.

Background

By 2050, there will be about 9 billion people in the world. At the same time, arable land, grazing areas and water resources are becoming scarcer. Agricultural systems capable of supplying the world's population with adequate quantities of nutritious food are needed.

While in Europe food losses occur mostly at the end of the food chain, for example in supermarkets, restaurants or consumer households, in developing countries it happens at earlier stages. The reasons for this are inadequate harvesting, processing and storage methods, as well as a lack of market access. The FAO's 2011 study Global Food Losses and Food Waste found that countries in sub-Saharan Africa were losing up to 170kg of food per person per year due to these aspects. Since then, that has not substantially changed.

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), there are approximately 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide, with smallholder agriculture being the livelihood of more than 2 billion people. These family farms produce around half of the world's food and over 70% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Climate change, natural disasters and economic changes are impeding the work of smallholder farmers. Smallholders are forced to adapt their production methods to changing and unpredictable conditions. They are thus reliant on research and advisory services. In the SDC's view, such services are successful if they take into account traditional and local know-how. The Swiss agricultural sector is a role model here, with its multifunctional, family-based and environmentally-friendly food production geared to social and regional balance.

Focus on smallholder farms

In three short films, learn how smallholders and family farms cope with challenges such as rising food prices and the effects of climate change.

'Can we feed the world?'

Over the next 30 years, the world's population is set to increase from 7 to around 9 billion people. More than 820 million people go hungry today. Three quarters of them live in rural areas and largely depend on farming for their livelihood. At the same time, food prices are rising, which has a particularly negative impact on people living in poverty in food-importing countries. Global changes in food production and distribution are necessary.

Film: 'Can we feed the world?'

 

'Today's reality of smallholder farms'

Through the story of the Traoré family in West Africa, the film provides an insight into the life of smallholder farmers in developing countries. The film shows how poorly functioning markets, insufficient opportunities for education, training and information, the effects of climate change, and poor access to land and water prevent family farms from realising their full potential.

Film: 'Today's reality of smallholder farms'

 

'Realising the potential of smallholder farming'

For smallholder farmers to be able to make a substantive contribution to food security, they must be able to expand their production beyond their own needs to meet market demand. The film recounts the SDC's efforts on behalf of smallholder farmers with regard to land rights, information and rural development.

Film: 'Realising the potential of smallholder farming'

Documents

Current projects

Object 133 – 144 of 207

Amélioration de la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle dans la région Boucle du Mouhoun

01.10.2018 - 31.12.2021

Le Burkina Faso fait face à des crises de sécurité alimentaire et de malnutrition récurrentes pour des raisons structurelles et conjoncturelles. Ce projet vise à renforcer la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle (SAN) des personnes vulnérables dans la région Boucle du Mouhoun à travers une approche intégrée et innovatrice. Cet approche combine des interventions en sécurité alimentaire et moyens d’existence, en santé primaire et nutrition communautaire. Le projet s’inscrit dans la nouvelle vision du « programme lait » de la Confédération.


Plant Variety Protection Legislation and Farmers’ Rights in Developing Countries

01.10.2018 - 31.10.2023

Plant variety protection legislation in accordance with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is gaining importance in developing countries. This kind of legislation often neglects the existing informal seed systems and Farmers’ Rights. SDC supports APBREBES, a network of civil society organizations, to raise awareness and contribute to capacity building on alternative legislation that better reflect smallholders’ needs and practices.


Blue Peace Financing: transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments

01.10.2018 - 30.06.2023

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals government efforts do not suffice, additional private capital deployed towards sustainable development are needed. Blue Peace advocates for investments to be re-directed to two levels: transboundary entities and to municipalities. This will have a transformative impact. As a door opener, Switzerland through its partnership with UNCDF contributes to the development of innovative financial products that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments leading to sustainable development and peace.


Améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle aux provinces du Kadiogo, Zoundwéogo et de l’Oubritenga

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2021

Le Burkina Faso fait face à des crises de sécurité alimentaire et de malnutrition récurrentes pour des raisons structurelles et conjoncturelles. L’approche intégrée et innovatrice proposée par ce projet vise à améliorer les conditions de vie et développer la résilience des populations vulnérables selon trois axes : la récupération des enfants malnutris ; la mise en place de groupes d’apprentissage communautaires pour les femmes enceintes et les mères d’enfant; ainsi que l’amélioration de l’environnement sanitaire et des moyens d’existence. Ce programme s’inscrit dans la nouvelle vision du « programme lait » de la Confédération. 


China: Rehabilitation and management strategy for over-pumped aquifers under a changing climate

01.09.2018 - 31.12.2022

In the past 30 years the aquifers in the North China plain have been over-exploited. Based on cutting-edge Sino-Swiss expertise in real-time groundwater monitoring and modelling, the project will implement groundwater and agricultural management policies to stabilize groundwater levels as a buffer to climate change induced droughts. The project will work with farmers and local authorities to facilitate policy uptake. Findings are relevant for many water-stressed countries and will be shared globally.


Improving farm productivity in Georgia through dual vocational education and training

Three people in a greenhouse.

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022

Agriculture is Georgia's most important sector. However, farming remains uncompetitive as farmers' skills are out of step with the job market and technological developments. Switzerland is continuing to support vocational education and training to improve productivity, farm income and the employment situation for students of agriculture.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Vocational training
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Vocational training
Agricultural services & market
Rural development

01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022


CHF  7’303’140



Remote sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging economies (RIICE) - Phase 3

01.08.2018 - 31.08.2022

Extreme weather events increasingly affect small-scale producers in Asia. Satellites and other information technologies present tremendous potential for improved country-wide monitoring of crop growth and insurance solutions for extreme weather events. With RIICE, SDC supports the integration of expertise from Swiss private actors and international public research centres toward modernizing public agricultural services and crop insurance programmes, offering performant solutions to Governments and producers to cope with production shortfalls.


Solar irrigation for Agriculture Resilience (SoLAR)

01.08.2018 - 30.06.2024

Farmers increasingly rely on irrigation to counter rising temperature and rainfall variability, leading to growth in energy demand and depletion of groundwater resources. The project aims to promote solar irrigation as a water-energy solution for climate-resilient and socially inclusive agrarian livelihoods in South Asia. Swiss innovation in groundwater monitoring through electricity use, efficient solar pumps and smart micro grids will be applied in the partner countries.


Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa (ISSD Africa)

01.08.2018 - 31.08.2022

Smallholders in Africa need to have access to affordable quality seeds. The Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa project assesses critical factors of the seed sector in the continent and offers innovative solutions that respond to the diversity of needs of African smallholders, bringing together the assets of informal, intermediary and formal seed systems. Through its existing seed sector related engagement, SDC is well placed to support policies at country and African Union levels.


Scaling Up Youth Employment in Agriculture Initiative

01.08.2018 - 31.10.2023

Education systems in Southern Africa do not prepare youth for work; they cannot access or create economic opportunities and ignore the available options. The project will scale up in Southern Africa a model already tested by Switzerland in Tanzania. It will improve (self)-employment of 20’000 young women and men in Zimbabwe and Zambia by strengthening their skills and matching them with existing job opportunities, thereby contributing to the implementation of youth policies in-country and regionally.


Reducing Food Losses through Improved Post Harvest Management in Ethiopia

01.07.2018 - 29.02.2024

Ethiopia continues to experience high post-harvest losses around 30% annually due to inappropriate use of technologies and mal-practices. Building up on the success stories and knowledge gained from SDC’s long-term engagement in post-harvest management and lessons learnt from the first phase, the second phase aims at promoting affordable and effective on-farm storage technologies and management practices to reduce post-harvest losses for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.


Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Phase 2

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

Land governance remains at the centre of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), and land expropriation is a key driver of new poverty and food insecurity. The governments in the region have begun to turn their attention to legal and policy issues on land governance. This creates an opportunity for MRLG and the Reform Actors it brings together, to contribute to improvements in policies and practices regarding land tenure security for family farmers.

Object 133 – 144 of 207