New ODI report: how smallholder agriculture contributes to food security and nutrition

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. The 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.