Food Security in Asia and the Pacific: The Role of Smallholders

Thapa, Ganesh, and Raghav Gaiha. 2012. "Food Security in Asia and the Pacific: The Role of Smallholders." Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development 9(1): 53-89.


This paper discusses the challenges and opportunities faced by small farmers in Asia and the Pacific region in raising agricultural productivity and in diversifying into high-value commodities. About 87 percent of the world's 500 million small farms (less than 2 hectares) are in this region, with China and India accounting for 193 million and 93 million of these, respectively. Small farms significantly contribute to agricultural production, food security, rural poverty reduction, and biodiversity conservation, despite their constraints with respect to access to productive resources and service delivery. More new challenges confront them: integration into high-value chains, adaptation to climate change, market volatility, and other risks and vulnerability. The small farms can benefit from high-value chains if they can receive support through intermediation (e.g., public-private cooperation to ensure food safety standards) and internalization (e.g., through producers' association to meet quality standards). New investment opportunities have emerged in agriculture, leading to large-scale investments and competition for land. Although new economies of scale (e.g., in external financing) have emerged, smallholders can enhance their competitiveness only if the biases against them (e.g., in credit) are eliminated. Governments must play an active role in coordinating the delivery of inputs, technical services, and output marketing services to small farms. They must also provide incentives to the private sector to innovate. Support is also needed to enable smallholders to adapt to climate change and market volatility.

More Details

Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD)
1656-4383 (print);   2599-3879 (online)
Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)
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