On the eve of the UN Food Systems Summit, the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) spoke of the “terrible irony” that small-scale producers who grow a third of the world’s food should struggle to feed their own families a healthy, nutritious diet.
“With no savings and no access to capital, farming families also have no cushion against climate change and other shocks. Today’s Food Systems Summit is our chance to commit to concrete changes. We mustn’t squander this opportunity,”
said Gilbert F. Houngbo.
Most rural people in the developing world earn their incomes from agriculture, IFAD stated, with small-scale producers on farms smaller than 2ha growing over 30% of global food, and up to 80% in parts of Africa and Asia.
The organisation pointed to a recent study of various crops sourced from small-scale farms in developing countries, which showed that only 6.5% of the supermarket price went to the farmer.
According to IFAD’s Rural Development Report, consolidation within the food sector has seen profits for large food businesses soar, while those producing, processing and distributing food remain trapped in poverty, unable to afford healthy diets.
“Inadequate incomes are a major reason why around 3 billion people in the world cannot afford healthy diets,”
“When rural people are paid fairly for their labour, the ripple effect is enormous. Profitable small farms put children through school, pay for diverse, healthy diets, generate employment, and boost rural economies. Conversely, poverty and hunger are key drivers of migration, conflict and instability. Which future do we want?”
IFAD is urging governments to promote employment generation, decent wages and improved working conditions in the private sector.
Following the Summit, IFAD revealed it will co-lead the Decent Wages and Living Income coalition with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the support of CARE.