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Will small farmers survive the twenty-first century – and should they?

Agriculture has a dominant role in rural land use in many countries, meaning that farmers control and manage much of the land, including its biodiversity and water resources. It is estimated that there are 570 million farms worldwide, of which 410 million are less than a hectare in size and 475 million less than 2 ha.

Most of these small-scale farmers are in developing countries, often cultivating poor and marginal land. At least two billion people are subsisting on very small plots, and probably selling or trading a proportion of their harvest for other basic necessities.

Despite their dominance in terms of numbers, people farming less than 2 ha only occupy 12% of total agricultural land, with the large majority of the remainder held by larger family-run farms.

Source: Nigel Dudley & Sasha Alexander (2017): Will small farmers survive the twenty first century – and should they?, Biodiversity, DOI: 10.1080/14888386.2017.1351397
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