Supporting Small-scale farmers in Building Resilience is Crucial

As the world constantly faces climate change crises from floods to droughts, small-scale family farmers are faced with greater challenges that hinder them from sustainable food production as they struggle to build resilience with minimal support.

Based on the report ‘Untapped Potential’ by a new alliance of farmer networks with a representation of over 35 million small-scale producers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, small-scale farmers despite producing 32% of the world’s food are only getting 0.3% of international climate finance was spent helping them adapting 2021.

Hakim Baliriane, Chair of the Eastern and Southern Africa small-scale Farmers Forum said that Climate change has helped push 122 million people into hunger since 2019.

Adding that reversing this trend will not be possible if governments continue to tie the hands of millions of small-scale family farmers together, they produce a third of the world’s food yet still receive a fraction of the climate finance that is essential to adapt.

The research is being released ahead of COP28 which is set to agree on a Global Goal for Adaptation as the UAE presidency has continuously urged governments to include food and agriculture in national climate plans for the first time and scale up finance for food system transformation.  

“Many family farmers lack the infrastructure, technology, and resources to adapt to climate impacts with serious implications for global food security and rural economies. Family farms of less than two hectares produce a third of the world’s food (32%) while farms of 5 hectares or less account for more than half of the global production of 9 staple crops – rice, peanut, cassava, millet, wheat, potato, maize, barley and rye – and grow almost three-quarters of the coffee and 90% of the cocoa. Over 2.5 billion people globally depend on family farms for their livelihoods,” said Hakim Baliriane.

small-scale farmers
A farmer attending to his vegetable farm .source, Courtesy

In a snapshot of the analyses done by Climate Focus of international public finance for climate mitigation and adaptation, it was evident that the agri-food sector received US$8.4billion in international public climate finance – around half the US$16 billion spent on energy – with climate vulnerable and food insecure countries such as Zambia and Sierra Leone getting just US$20 million each.

According to Alberto Broch, president of the Confederation of Family Producer Organizations of Expanded Mercosur, COPROFAM, a message that governments need to take heed of is that more than 600 million family farms are already engaged in building more sustainable and resilient food systems. 

“Small-scale farmers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that must be tapped. By including their voices in decision-making and ensuring direct access to more climate finance, we can create a powerful alliance in the fight against climate change,” said Alberto.

Additionally, it shows that only US $2 billion which is only 2% of international public climate finance was directed at small-scale family farmers and rural communities – equivalent to around 0.3% of total international climate finance from both public and private sources. Smallholders’ / small-scale farmers’ finance needs are estimated at US$170 billion annually in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

Notably of the estimated US $ 300-350 billion required annually for supporting food and agriculture, only US$1.6 billion barely a fraction of international public climate finance was used to support sustainable and resilient practices such as agroecology.

Essentiality in supporting small-scale farmers was cited by the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which points out that the most effective way to safeguard food security is to shift to more nature-friendly and diverse food systems.

The recommendations further show that family farmers are at the forefront of these efforts. For example, in the Pacific small-scale farmers are planting breadfruit trees alongside other crops as it is drought resistant, seldom uprooted by storms and cyclones, and produce a nutritious staple food crop.

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