According to United Nations estimates, the world population is expected to grow from around 7 billion currently to more than 9 billion by 2050. This means that farmers around the world are going to have to produce a lot more food, while limiting their impact on land, water and the global climate.
Smallholder farmers – once disdained by experts as unimportant and inefficient – are now being heralded as the key to unlock this dilemma. Using local knowledge and working local land, smallholder farmers are helping to fight back against the corporatization of land and resources. In turn, this creates a more sustainable approach to agriculture, keeping environmental impacts and carbon emissions in check. But can these farmers ramp up production to meet the huge food needs of the future? The answer is yes, but there is a big “if” attached to this. That is, if they can get the financing necessary to improve productivity.
A report last year from the Initiative for Smallholder Finance and the MasterCard Foundation sketched out the challenges in this massive undertaking.