Supporting farmers

Farmers harvesting crops in Egypt

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Farmers hold the key to reducing hunger and poverty

Food and hunger infographic

Most of the 1.4 billion people living on less than £1 a day live in rural areas and depend largely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

These small-holder farming households farm on small plots of land, growing crops primarily to feed themselves and to sell any surplus in local markets. Yet they provide a staggering 80% of the food consumed in much of the developing world.

Helping these farmers to grow more is a key way to fight hunger – and helping them to earn more from selling their produce is a key way to fight poverty. In fact, a 10% increase in farm yields has been shown to lead to a 7% reduction in poverty in Africa and a 5% reduction in poverty in Asia.

That’s why CARE helps farmers to increase agricultural productivity through training and support in improved techniques and practices – including the diversification or recovery of efficient traditional practices.

Food security and climate change

CARE recognises that climate change is a huge threat to achieving poverty reduction. The impacts of climate change – such as changes in patterns of rain-fall – are particularly critical for small-scale farming households, who can be pushed into hunger by the failure of their crops.

We were one of the first organisations to develop a community-based approach to adapting to climate change. We work with poor and marginalised communities to help them adapt to their already changing weather patterns and to prepare for inevitable but sometimes unpredictable changes.

A woman in Peru tending a plant on her farm
Nemezia Ramirez tends to a plant on her farm in Carhuaz, Peru, where she has been learning how to plant climate-resilient crops. Nemezia works as part of a collective of 11 women and their families who cultivate 24 types of produce. Residents of Carhuaz have experienced changes in climatic conditions, including more extreme frosts, erratic rains and increased pests and plant illnesses, forcing them to adapt their agricultural methods to the new climate patterns.

Women farmers

Women provide roughly half of all agricultural labour in Africa, yet women farmers are routinely paid less than men for their agricultural work; carry a disproportionate share of household workloads; are often excluded from agricultural decision-making; and are under-represented in agricultural organisations.

Less than 1 in 5 landholders in developing countries are women – and the proportion of women landholders in North Africa, West Asia and Oceania is less than 1 in 20.

The net impact of these barriers is a systematic gap between women’s potential contributions to food security and household resilience and what they are able to achieve today.

By failing to close the gender gap in agriculture, the world is paying dearly.

Our work builds on – and is inspired by – the vital roles that women play in small-holder agriculture around the world, meeting the food needs of their households and contributing to the development and growth of their livelihoods and sustainable futures for their households and communities.

We do this by:

  • providing training and support to women farmers
  • promoting women’s participation in collectives and community groups
  • increasing women’s access to and control over resources – from tools, seeds and agricultural inputs like fertilisers, to land itself
  • increasing women’s ability to participate in markets, through financial and business training – often through our village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) – to our innovative programmes enabling women producers to participate in and benefit from ‘value chains’ (the larger-scale networks – production, processing, distribution, marketing – that are required to bring a product, such as milk, coffee or cocoa, to the consumer).