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 1 – 12 of 208

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) – “Making markets work to improve the consumption of nutritious and healthy food”

01.01.2026 - 31.12.2026

Poor-quality diets have become the number-one risk factor for ill health. The quality of people’s diets depends on food systems which shape the demand, availability, affordability, and desirability of safe, nutritious foods. By supporting the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss foundation, SDC aims at enabling small and medium size businesses in low- and middle-income countries to become accountable producers of safe nutritious products for all - women, children and vulnerable people alike. It will leverage the Swiss experience in collaboration between public and private actors.


Horn of Africa: One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods

01.09.2024 - 30.06.2032

The project aims at improving the well-being of targeted pastoral communities challenged with inadequate access to basic health/veterinary services and environmental conditions in Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya through integrated health service delivery for both pastoralists and their livestock. The project will contribute to stability and vulnerability’s reduction of citizens in the region, thereby reducing their displacement/migration which is in the interest of Switzerland and the international community.


Solar Irrigation for Agriculture Resilience (SoLAR)

01.07.2024 - 31.07.2027

To adapt to climate change farmers rely increasingly on irrigation, ultimately depleting groundwater resources and raising energy demand. The project aims to address these challenges by promoting solar irrigation, water efficient agriculture and groundwater governance. The project will harness Swiss expertise on hydrogeology and technical innovations to contribute to climate resilient agriculture and facilitate knowledge sharing in South Asia and at the global level.


Programme d’appui à la commercialisation du bétail en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2028

Dans la région ouest africaine, le secteur de l’élevage est une grande opportunité d’intégration économique et de création de richesses pour les populations et les pays. En complément au soutien au secteur dans les pays prioritaires, ce programme vise le renforcement de la chaine de valeur régionale des produits animaux au profit des éleveurs. L’accent est mis sur le renforcement du secteur privé et l’amélioration des politiques et pratiques régionales d’échanges en  produits animaux.


Sustainable water management for food security and nutrition in agriculture and food systems

01.07.2023 - 31.03.2027

Agriculture accounts globally for 70% freshwater use. Inefficient water use, water pollution, climate change and increasing global water demand puts agriculture under pressure, as well for smallholders. SDC can build on successful experiences in this domain and will support projects in Africa in ecologically sustainable water management in smallholder agriculture and food systems, improve smallholders’ economic and social situation and increase the resilience of their livelihoods.


Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Africa

01.03.2023 - 31.07.2026

Today, only 12 plant species and five animal species provide more than 75 percent of all human food. Quality seed and maintaining the agrobiodiversity are key concerns for food security and nutrition. Aiming at enhancing access of smallholders to quality seed of their choice, the Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa programme combines public and private efforts. With its contribution and policy work, SDC supports healthy food systems, as well in fragile contexts.


Global Measurement of Diet Quality

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025

Diets are the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease and multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist with overweight and obesity being the fastest growing form, particularly among poor populations in developing countries. Routinely collected information on Diet Quality is necessary to better understand dietary trends, help to create awareness, and inform policies to improve diets and health outcomes. Therefore, SDC supports an international initiative to develop diet quality measurements.


Global Governance on Food Security

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland will strengthen its commitment for an inclusive and effective global architecture for food security and nutrition. Therefore, the SDC/GPFS will maintain the focus of its attention on  the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is the most inclusive policy platform for food security-related issues. The second focus will be on the coordination role of the UN system at interagency and policy levels. The participation of farmers’ organisations in country-based public investment programmes will also be facilitated, in line with the above-mentioned interventions.


Financement des fonds agricoles nationaux du Bénin (FinAgri)

01.12.2022 - 30.11.2030

Au Bénin, il n’existe pas de dispositif national pour le financement du secteur agricole (agriculteurs, éleveurs, artisans et entreprises agricoles). Par la présente initiative, la DDC veut soutenir l’Etat béninois et le secteur privé dans la mise en place des dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement du secteur. Le but est de renforcer la productivité, la compétitivité des productions agricoles et la résilience des systèmes de productions aux effets des variations climatiques.


Sustainable Natural Resources Management (NRM) for Enhanced Pastoralist Food Security in the Borana Zone, Ethiopia.

01.10.2022 - 31.12.2027

Natural resources, particularly water and pasture, are among the key determinants of pastoralist livelihoods’ sustainability. The proposed Project contributes to the outcomes of the SDC’s Food Security Domain as stipulated in the Swiss Cooperation Strategy Horn of Africa. It aims at improving pastoralist food security and adaptive capacities in the lowlands of Borana Zone, Southern Ethiopia, through enhancing the sustainable management of natural resources.


Soutien au Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire -PRESA-

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2025

Malgré l’excédent céréalier enregistré durant ces deux dernières décennies, l’insécurité alimentaire touche près du ¼ de la population du Mali. La DDC veut renforcer les capacités institutionnelles et organisationnelles du dispositif national de sécurité alimentaire en vue d’améliorer la prévention et la gestion des crises conjoncturelles et accroître la résilience des populations vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle.


«Bai Alai» Small Business and Income Creation in Alai and Chon-Alai

01.06.2022 - 31.05.2024

Alai and Chon Alai are two of the poorest regions in Kyrgyzstan. The project aims at increasing economic inclusion of producing households through increased income and employment, with the focus on women and youth. During this exit phase (III) the project capitalizes and disseminates good practices in apiculture and cattle, and continues activities handicraft and tourism value chains, until phasing out in May 2024.

Object 1 – 12 of 208