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 25 – 36 of 188

WFP Haiti Supply Chain Response

06.01.2020 - 30.04.2021

Face à la hausse de l'insécurité en Haiti depuis 2018 avec un pic ces 3 derniers mois, l'accès des acteurs humanitaires et de développement à leurs zones d'intervention est devenu difficile. Les populations en besoin d'assistance sont à la hausse sans pouvoir être assistées à cause des lacunes des capacités logistiques. La DDC supporte cette intervention en vue de faciliter la reprise/continuité des activités, renforcer les capacités logistiques (aérienne, maritime, terrestre ..) en vue d'atteindre les populations en besoin d'assistance.


CGIAR Contribution 2020 - 2021

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2021

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global research for development partnership in the fields of agriculture (crops, livestock, aquaculture and forestry). CGIAR holds in trust unique genetic resources for agriculturally significant species of central importance to advancing and sustaining productivity for the world’s smallholder farmers in the 21st century. CGIAR has a singular role in providing international and global public goods through high-quality agricultural research, partnership, and leadership in the areas of poverty and hunger reduction, improvement of human nutrition, enhancement of ecosystem resilience. 


Strengthening Drought Resilience in Pastoral and Agro-pastoral Areas of Somali National Regional State, Ethiopia (SDR - SNRS)

01.01.2020 - 30.04.2022

Pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods in Ethiopia's Somali National Regional State (SNRS) are increasingly threatened by environmental (climatic) changes and land degradation. GIZ along with Local Government partners aims at building the resilience of vulnerable pastoralist communities through proven land rehabilitation measures, the promotion of livelihood activities and capacity development of government and private sector institutions.


Solar Irrigation for Agriculture Resilience (SoLAR)

01.01.2020 - 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.


Small Irrigation Programme (SIP)

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2024

Swiss engagement through this project assists farmers in doubling their agricultural income through year-round irrigation and better access to markets. Doubling of agriculture income will contribute to poverty reduction and reduce poor farmer’s need to migrate. In addition, Swiss pioneering work in operationalizing federalism, through this project at local level will address issues related to historic over-centralization and social exclusion and will contribute to peace and stability in the country.


Mine Action for Human Development in Cambodia 2017- 2025

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2025

Over the past 20 years Cambodia has made significant progress in clearing landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). Nevertheless 1,640 km2 of land remain contaminated as suspected minefields at this moment. SDC plans supporting national and regional mine action initiatives to ensure that development of poor rural communities is no longer impeded by disablement and restricted access to land, forests and water resources due to landmines and ERW.


Responsible Agricultural Investments Leveraging (RAIL) by IFAD

15.12.2019 - 31.12.2023

The International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD is a key partner for Switzerland in the efforts to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. SDC supports the IFAD-led Agricultural Business Capital Fund to finance responsibly African farmer organisations, small and medium agribusiness enterprises, and rural financial intermediaries. The Fund will lead to higher incomes and more jobs notably for youth and women as well as increased food security, contributing to improved livelihoods of an estimated 430’000 smallholder households applying more sustainable farm practices.


African Risk Capacity (ARC)

10.12.2019 - 31.12.2022

The African Risk Capacity is a disaster risk management pool and early response mechanism established by the African Union member states against natural disasters like drought, flood, and tropical cyclones, and the outbreak of highly contagious diseases. Its drought insurance and the new insurance products for flood and tropical cyclones enhance the safety nets of smallholder households and thus contributes to food security in Africa.


Trail Bridge Sub-Sector Program

01.12.2019 - 30.11.2023

The project supports the Government of Nepal to institutionalize trail bridge building under the new federal structure. Due to the ongoing state restructuring process, Swiss support is required for a last phase to ensure the transfer of the institutional and human capacity built-up in trail bridges over the past four decades to the new state and local governments. Walking remains a major mode of travel in Nepal, and trail bridges are still essential for people to access basic public services


Advancing Sustainable Agriculture in Ukraine

01.10.2019 - 31.12.2022

Agricultural production in Ukraine is unsustainable. SDC and Nestlé join efforts to improve agricultural production practices in two selected value chains which will contribute to an improved farm performance and life of farmers. The project will pilot a business model for farm sustainability with 10 farmers and 5 pre-processing lead suppliers. Good business cases showing sustainable farm performance and supply to pre-processors will be disseminated for potential replication.

 


South Sudan, Caritas Switzerland: Restoration of resilience in livelihoods for rural and semi-urban communities in Torit State

01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022

This project is designed to increase the resilience of women, men and children in Torit State in South Sudan. This will be achieved through improving agricultural production and access to value chains for farmers and small scale businesses. In order to improve productivity and reduce water-related diseases, the project will improve access to water. This will ultimately reduce vulnerability to the threat of food & nutrition insecurity, and bring the target population to engage in increased productivity with financial benefit.


Strengthening Agro-biodiversity in Southern Africa (SASA)

01.09.2019 - 31.08.2023

While governments have regional and national seed policies favourable to commercial certified seed

production, these are restrictive on farmers’ seed systems that are diverse and resilient. The project

capitalises on Swiss regional experiences on supporting seed systems in Southern Africa. This will include

the empowerment of civil society, farmers’ organisations and governments in developing inclusive agricultural

policies that ultimately contribute to sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity and improved well-being of

smallholder farming communities.

Object 25 – 36 of 188