Policy highlights:

  • Numerous policy interventions target smallholder farmers, but there are no clear definitions of farm types and few statistics on farmland distribution worldwide.
  • An elaborate analysis of farm size and distribution shows that around 84% of all farms worldwide are less than 2 hectares and that these farms only operate 12% of the land.
  • The proportion of small farms is similar in low-income and middle-income countries, where they use 30–40% of the farmland.
  • These findings contradict the assumption that small farmers will feed the growing world population, as they only possess a small proportion of the world’s arable land.
  • The concepts of the small farm and the family farm should not be used interchangeably because the share of land used by family farms is estimated at 75%.
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