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 145 – 156 of 207

Climate Resilience of IFAD Programmes

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

The International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD is a key partner for Switzerland in the efforts to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. However, climate change is putting the success of the IFAD’s development programmes at risk. Switzerland supports the integration in all IFAD projects of measures that respond to potential climate threats into all IFAD projects. As a result, farmers become more resilient and Swiss investments through IFAD more sustainable.


Backstopping SDC Climate Change and Environment (CC&E) Network

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2023

A climate smart development cooperation requires continuous knowledge management and a sound thematic expertise. The next phase of the Backstopping Support Mandate (BSM) will help to capitalize on SDC’s key learnings, stimulate capacity building, foster mainstreaming and provide thematic support in the field of climate change and environment This will allow the SDC Climate Change and Environment Network and the Global Programme Climate Change (GPCCE) help improve the overall quality of SDC’s operational activities in this thematic field.


Global Land Tool Network Partnership

01.05.2018 - 31.12.2023

Land rights are powerful resources for people to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Switzerland joins others in supporting the Global Land Tool Network (3rd Strategic Cycle) for its advocacy work and efforts to provide practical land tools available for authorities to ensure that all people, including women, youth and vulnerable groups, have access to land and tenure security. Switzerland brings in the experiences from other land related partnerships at national, regional and global levels.


Opérationnalisation de la filière semencière au Tchad

01.05.2018 - 30.11.2023

Au Tchad, le système de production agricole est rudimentaire et les rendements sont faibles. Le pays est régulièrement confronté à l’insécurité alimentaire. La semence est le principal intrant utilisé par les agriculteurs. C’est pourquoi, la DDC contribue à faciliter l’accès à des semences de qualité et adaptées à leur environnement. Ce programme permet aux exploitations familiales d’améliorer leur production et leur revenu et développe l’auto-emploi des femmes et des jeunes grâce à la multiplication de semences.


Blue Lifelines – Safeguarding Wetlands in the Sahel

01.04.2018 - 30.06.2023

The relevance of wetlands for food security and nutrition is underestimated worldwide and in the Sahel in particular. Experiences from the project sites in Mali and Ethiopia and from previous efforts have the potential to change Sahelian and global approaches and to be scaled-up through attracting investments by international financing institutions. The project is implemented by Wetlands International, Caritas Switzerland and a Swiss technology company hydrosolutions Ltd.


RUNRES: The rural-urban nexus: Establishing a nutrient loop to improve city region food systems.

01.04.2018 - 30.04.2023

Implemented by the Institute for sustainable Agroecosystems of ETHZ, RUNRES will seek to improve the resilience and sustainability of food systems in four different rural-urban regions across Africa. It will encourage nutrient & waste recycling by installing and redirecting the byproducts of innovative, ecological, hygienically safe sanitation solutions. The organic matter may then serve as an input for smallholder producers to generate a circular flow of nutrients in agriculture, reinvigorating thus regional food systems.


Programme d'Appui à la Promotion de l'Entreprenariat Agricole (PAPEA)

01.03.2018 - 31.05.2023

Au Burkina Faso, les entreprises agricoles sont peu développées et à prédominance informelles et individuelles. Les contraintes multiples, dont le faible accès aux services non financiers et financiers, réduisent leur productivité et créent moins de valeur ajoutée. S’appuyant sur l’expertise suisse en matière d’inclusion financière, la DDC soutiendra le secteur privé agricole (micro et petites entreprises) afin de créer des emplois décents pour les jeunes et des femmes et ainsi contribuer à réduire la pauvreté.


Entrepreneuriats Stratégiques Pour des Opportunités d’Investissements Renforcés (ESPOIR)

01.03.2018 - 31.03.2024

Ce programme contribue à l’émergence des microentreprises privées béninoises de jeunes et des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (PME) agroalimentaires pour assurer une croissance économique durable, une augmentation d’emplois et de revenus, et une alimentation nutritive (sécurité alimentaire). Il porte l’espoir de toute une génération d’entrepreneurs, et permet de répondre en partie au défi démographique par la création d’emplois.


***GPFS Innovation Platforms***

01.02.2018 - 31.12.2021

Since an improved participation of all agricultural stakeholders in research, innovation and development discussions is crucial for finding solutions to feed 9 Billion people by 2050, SDC supports networks which emphasize dynamic relationships between a broad range of social actors (e.g. farmers, scientists, private sector, civil society etc.) to facilitate exchange of information and experience among agricultural stakeholders.


PIAL – “Proyecto para fortalecer un Sistema de Innovación Agropecuaria para el Desarrollo Local”

01.02.2018 - 31.10.2022

PIAL fomenta capacidades locales para gestionar los problemas de las cadenas agro-alimentarias en 75 municipios, contribuyendo al incremento de la disponibilidad de alimentos. Así, se institucionaliza y extiende en el país un Sistema de Innovación Agropecuaria Local (SIAL), con espacios y mecanismos para la participación de agricultores, autoridades y otros actores locales en la solución de estos problemas. 


Programme d’appui à une gouvernance agricole inclusive en Haïti (PAGAI)

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2029

Le programme PAGAI vise à améliorer l’accès de 55’000 exploitations familiales haïtiennes à un cadre politique et des services agricoles appropriés. Pour y arriver, le programme va accompagner les organisations des producteurs ruraux (organisations paysannes), qui seront renforcées dans leur gouvernance interne, dans leur rôle de concertation/négociation de services et dans leur capacité de défendre les intérêts et plaider pour les paysannes et paysans d’Haïti.


Advancing Land Use Rights

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022

Competition for land in Mozambique is sharply increasing. Despite favourable land legislation for the protection of interests and rights of the local communities the concretization of these rights is still precarious. SDC’s program supports the realization of these community rights to land and its benefits through institutional development, strengthening dialogue and practical collaboration between local government, civil society and private sector in order to contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable development.

Object 145 – 156 of 207