The More and Better Network recently published a report, Investments in Small-Scale Sustainable Agriculture, shedding light on the lack of financial investment plans available to small-scale food producers across the globe. The More and Better Network is an international network for support of food, agriculture, and rural development to eradicate hunger and poverty, and this report emphasizes the major challenges small-scale food producers face in maintaining their businesses and enhancing food security, as well as the importance of community organization.
According to the United Nations Global Compact, small-scale agriculture provides food for approximately 70 percent of the world’s population. Additionally, there are approximately 2 billion people living in poverty in developing countries that depend on some form of agriculture for their livelihoods, according to the Initiative for Smallholder Finance. While small-scale producers are shown here to play a major role in global food systems, The More and Better Network highlights that global investments in small-scale agriculture constitute a small share of governmental budgets and investments in developing countries, which results in a decline in food security and an increase in overall hunger and poverty levels.
To illustrate this, the report draws on statistics published by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which states that, globally, governments have allocated less than two percent of central government expenditures to small-scale agricultural development between 2001 and 2015; and, that Official Development Assistance (ODA) —which refers to the flow of international financial aid for developing countries— for agriculture declined by 50 percent globally by 2004.
To encourage increases in financial investments for small-scale agriculture, the report discusses case studies of community cooperatives in Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Mozambique that have successfully developed alternative financial investment schemes for small-scale producers. These case studies show that by unifying small-scale producers in community cooperatives, communities can develop better infrastructure to obtain necessary funds and resources to support small-scale producers, help individuals transition to more sustainable agricultural methods, and encourage job training and educational opportunities for women and youth.
Based on these case studies, The More and Better Network provides a series of 14 recommendations encouraging governments as well as public and private investors to increase and prioritize investments for small-scale sustainable agriculture. These recommendations also encourage improvements in agricultural policies, and in developing better methods to help further develop community cooperatives.
Some of the recommendations include developing direct and positive relationships between governments and small-scale farmers’ cooperatives to make sure governments understand the needs of individual communities; ensuring that new investment schemes are tailored to increase autonomy and reduce communities’ reliance on larger credit institutions; and, that at least 10 percent of the total ODA from participating countries should be given as support for small-scale sustainable agriculture no later than 2019.