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Smallholder agriculture’s contribution to better nutrition

Research report

Written by Steve Wiggins, Sharada Keats

Research report

This paper, commissioned by the UK Hunger Alliance, addresses the question of how sustainable smallholder agriculture can contribute to improving food security and reducing under-nutrition in the developing world.

Food insecurity and under-nutrition remain pressing problems in the developing world. Some 852 million people were estimated to be undernourished in 2010–12. Micro-nutrient deficiencies, especially of vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc, are even more widespread, with perhaps as many as two billion persons affected owing to insufficient vitamins and minerals in their diet.

Despite their direct contribution to food production, small-scale farmers and their households are disproportionately vulnerable to these forms of hunger. This paper addresses the question of how smallholder agriculture that is sustainable can contribute to improving food security and reducing under-nutrition

With a review of the literature and using five country case studies -  studies Ghana, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Zambia, and Kerala State, India - we examine the contribution of smallholder agricultural development to attaining improved food security and nutrition, how development policy might strengthen its contribution, what complementary actions are needed, and what the political conditions for better policy may be.

The report sets out 12 recommendations for food security and nutrition-sensitive smallholder agricultural development.

Steve Wiggins and Sharada Keats