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 157 – 168 of 203

Crop Trust – Genebank Platform 2018

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2018

The Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) safeguards globally important collections of crop diversity critical for improving food and nutrition security. Genebanks require constant maintenance. The Crop Trust Endowment Fund ensures the long-term funding for the maintenance of these genebanks. The unique bilateral contribution by Switzerland contributes to safeguarding (and building up of) the Endowment Fund.


Andean Regional Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (ARIACC)

15.12.2017 - 31.07.2024

The Andean Regional Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change builds on Swiss experience and aims at incorporating the resilience of poor rural Andean communities into national climate change adaptation (CCA) public policies, programs and intiatives of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Together with key stakeholders, it will promote the uptake of an integrated pro-poor approach, build on regional knowledge exchange and coordination, and articulate with the global CCA agenda


Scaling up Nutrition Pooled Fund (SUN – Pooled Fund)

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2022

Sound nutrition relevant policies and strategies are a prerequisite to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement brings together governments, civil society, donors, UN agencies, researchers and private sector actors to collaborate in support of countries to combat malnutrition. SDC participates in the SUN Pooled-Fund, which strengthens civil society engagement and multi-stakeholder platforms in the fight against malnutrition in the SUN countries.


Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (IFAD)

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2023

Switzerland is committed at the highest political level to help countries in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region coping with the refugee crisis. By co-financing two projects funded by IFAD (the International Fund for Agricultural Development) in Jordan and Lebanon, SDC will contribute to create sustainable livelihoods for thousands of Syrian refugees, and will also support host communities to increase their income and food security by improving the quality of their small ruminants and cattle, as well as their value in the market.
 


Technical Assistance Facility for Sustainable Business Development in Agriculture

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021

This publicly supported fund provides technical support (training, marketing, organization dev., business plans) to medium sized enterprises active in agriculture and food processing in several developing countries alongside with capital investments from private impact investors. Impact investors seek to generate a social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. The fund is a public private partnership that will trigger an estimated $30m in private capital and improve the output market for approx. 200k family farms. 


Inclusion financière dans l'Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA)

01.12.2017 - 31.12.2024

En Afrique de l’Ouest, le faible accès aux services financiers ne permet pas de moderniser les exploitations familiales et de développer des activités productives. La DDC soutient la stratégie régionale d’inclusion financière de l’Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine et la Swiss Capacity Building Facility pour accroitre l’accès à de nombreux jeunes et femmes aux services financiers et leur offrir des opportunités économiques permettant ainsi de s’attaquer aux causes de la migration et de l’insécurité.


Rangeland Management Project (RAMA)

01.10.2017 - 31.08.2022

Poor and landless families depend on rangeland resources for livestock rearing, fuel and fodder collection. A growing population puts increased pressure on limited resources, while decades of conflict and displacement have weakened rangeland management systems. RAMA will improve livelihoods and food security of rural households through empowering the communities to sustainably manage and use their rangeland resources in order to generate equitable benefits.


Partenariat scientifique entre 2iE Ouagadougou et institutions universitaires suisses

01.10.2017 - 31.12.2022

La maitrise de l’eau et l’accès à des sources d’énergie durables sont des facteurs nécessaires pour créer les conditions d’un développement humain durable en Afrique. Pour y parvenir la formation de cadres compétents et le développement de technologies et d’approches innovantes sont indispensables. Le partenariat avec 2IE y a contribué durant les années écoulées et les résultats atteints feront l’objet d’une capitalisation au cours de cette phase de désengagement qui est la dernière phase de ce partenariat.


Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers‘ food security

01.10.2017 - 30.09.2022

Smallholders often use informal seed systems to meet their seed needs. The project increases the access, availability and necessary diversity of adapted seeds to smallholders to reduce their vulnerability to shocks and contribute to their food and nutrition security. In national and global policy dialogues improved and pluralistic seed systems that better respond to the reality and the needs of smallholders are promoted and smallholders will get political recognition for their role in germplasm conservation.


Global Diet Quality Project

01.08.2017 - 31.12.2022

Diet is the most important determinant of health. Multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist with overweight and obesity being the fastest growing form, particularly in developing countries. SDC as a main bilateral donors to address non-communicable diseases aims to close a significant data gap by facilitating the generation of routinely collected and internationally comparable data on diet quality, thereby contributing to a better understanding of dietary trends, awareness, and policies. 



Support to WWF rattan initiative: "Sustainable rattan and bamboo supply chains in the Lao PDR”

01.08.2017 - 31.03.2021

Maintaining high biodiversity in agro-ecosystems contributes to poverty reduction in rural livelihoods. Better knowledge, tools and institutional arrangements are needed to support poverty alleviation and preserve biodiversity. Considering the current development context in Lao PDR, WWF supports the conservation and sustainable economic use of rattan and bamboo, aiming at improving the livelihood of upland farmers and enhancing the policy environment.

Object 157 – 168 of 203