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Small farm, often for a single family / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A smallholding or smallholder is a small farm operating under a small-scale agriculture model.[2] Definitions vary widely for what constitutes a smallholder or small-scale farm, including factors such as size, food production technique or technology, involvement of family in labor and economic impact.[3] Smallholdings are usually farms supporting a single family with a mixture of cash crops and subsistence farming. As a country becomes more affluent, smallholdings may not be self-sufficient, but may be valued for the rural lifestyle. As the sustainable food and local food movements grow in affluent countries, some of these smallholdings are gaining increased economic viability. There are an estimated 500 million smallholder farms in developing countries of the world alone, supporting almost two billion people.[4][5]

Diversified Crop Choices
Woman smallholder farmers in Kenya. In many parts of Africa and other parts of the world, women are the primary smallholders. In many contexts, women face unequal access to land, markets, knowledge, and other assets needed to maintain their farms.[1]

Small-scale agriculture is often in tension with industrial agriculture, which finds efficiencies by increasing outputs, monoculture, consolidating land under big agricultural operations, and economies of scale. Certain labor-intensive cash-crops, such as cocoa production in Ghana or Côte d'Ivoire, rely heavily on small holders; globally, as of 2008 90% of cocoa is grown by smallholders.[6] These farmers rely on cocoa for up to 60 to 90 per cent of their income.[7] Similar trends in supply chains exist in other crops like coffee, palm oil, and bananas.[8] In other markets, small scale agriculture can increase food system investment in small holders improving food security. Today some companies try to include smallholdings into their value chain, providing seed, feed or fertilizer to improve production.[9]

Because smallholding farms frequently require less industrial inputs and can be an important way to improve food security and sustainable food systems in less-developed contexts, addressing the productivity and financial sustainability of small holders is an international development priority and measured by indicator 2.3 of Sustainable Development Goal 2.[10][3] Additionally, since agriculture has such large impacts on climate change, Project Drawdown described "Sustainable Intensification for Smallholders" an important method for climate change mitigation.[11]