With the right investment, the output of small scale farms could soar.

Support for small-scale farming

Following a century of increases, crop yields are flat-lining – because intensive farming can only go so far. So it's time to focus on the huge untapped potential of small-scale farmers in developing countries – and especially women, who often do most of the work, for little reward.

As things stand, yield growth is falling, because soils can only produce a certain amount of crops – no matter how much fertilizer you spray on them. And all that fertilizer also has a massive carbon footprint – because of the energy needed to create it and because of all the nitrates it pumps out.

But at the same time, 500,000 small-scale farms around the world are helping to put food on the plates of two billion people – or one in three people on earth – while causing far less pain to our planet.

With effective, ambitious government support, and the right investment from companies, productivity can soar.

It's time to grow through small-scale farming.

The way to grow

By supporting small-scale farmers with sustainable techniques – like using organic fertilizers and drip irrigation techniques – we can help produce enough to feed a growing population, without pushing our climate further out of control.

Change is already happening. In Vietnam, for instance, the number of hungry people has halved in 12 years, kick-started by government support for farmers. And in Brazil, millions of people no longer wake up every day to hunger pangs, thanks to ambitious government backing.

But for change on a bigger scale, investment in developing country agriculture needs to grow. (In 1984, agriculture made up 20% of all foreign aid spending. In 2006 it had dropped to 3.7%)

For our world to grow together, we need to change the way the world thinks about farming.

What you can do to help

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