Smallholders Play Fundamental Role as Business Partners in Feeding the World

By Kanayo F. Nwanze (this blogpost was originally posted on the World Economic Forum blog)

What do the heads of multibillion-dollar companies and those working in development have in common with millions of small farmers? They all know that agriculture can transform economies and lives, allowing people to move out of poverty.

Nearly one billion people go hungry every day. Most live in the rural areas of developing countries. With food prices once again soaring, clearly more needs to be done so that all people have enough to eat. But if we focus only on feeding people today, we will be doing nothing to prevent hunger in the future. 

We must create the conditions for poor rural people to move permanently out of subsistence and into the marketplace.  GDP growth generated by agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors. And experience repeatedly shows – in China, Ghana, Viet Nam and elsewhere – that smallholders can lead agricultural growth.   

The New Vision for Agriculture, to be unveiled this week in Davos, recognizes the fundamental role of smallholders as business partners in feeding the world, protecting our planet and creating prosperity.
Ensuring global food security will require the collective will to create an enabling environment for smallholders,  while addressing the weaknesses in global food and agricultural markets. Only then will we be able to create a business-oriented agriculture sector in developing countries and, in so doing, sow the seeds for a more nutritionally secure world. I am looking forward to the discussions in Davos and hope that this year’s meeting will spur leaders not just to listen and debate, but to take action.

For the most up-to-date, comprehensive assessment of rural poverty, see IFAD’s Rural Poverty Report 2011.