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Small-scale farmers need decent wages, says IFAD

The president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has urged the world leaders attending the UN Food Systems Summit to take concrete actions to ensure small-scale farmers are paid decent wages

Majority of rural people in developing countries like South Africa earn their incomes from agriculture. (Image source: IFAD)Majority of rural people in developing countries like South Africa earn their incomes from agriculture. (Image source: IFAD)

The majority of rural people in developing countries like South Africa earn their incomes from agriculture. Rural small-scale farmers working on farms smaller than two hectares produce over 30% of global food, and up to 80% in parts of Africa and Asia. According to a recent study on crops sourced from small-scale farms in developing countries, only 6.5% of the supermarket price is paid to the farmer. Traders, food manufacturers and retailers take the lion’s share. 

“It is a terrible irony that those who grow our food cannot afford to feed healthy, nutritious diets to their own families,” said Gilbert F Houngbo, president of IFAD. “With no savings and no access to capital, farming families also have no cushion against climate change and other shocks. The Food Systems Summit is our chance to commit to concrete changes.”

“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,” said Houngbo.

IFAD is calling for governments to work with the private sector to implement policies that promote employment generation, decent wages and improved working conditions. A major focus needs to be on local small businesses which work across our food systems and produce, process and distribute food, while creating local jobs and boosting rural economies.


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