Agriculture must develop in ways that increase the incomes of smallholders.
Food availability is, first and foremost, an issue at the household level, and hunger today is
mostly attributable not to stocks that are too low or to global supplies unable to meet
demand, but to poverty; increasing the incomes of the poorest is the best way to combat it.
Cross-country comparisons show that GDP growth originating in agriculture is at least
twice as effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth originating outside agriculture. But
some types of investments are more effective than others in achieving that objective. The
multiplier effects are significantly higher when growth is triggered by higher incomes for
smallholders, stimulating demand for goods and services from local sellers and service-
providers. When large estates increase their revenue, most of it is spent on imported inputs
and machinery, and much less trickles down to local traders. Only by supporting small
producers can we help break the vicious cycle that leads from rural poverty to the
expansion of urban slums, in which poverty breeds more poverty.
– From the report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to
food, Olivier De Schutter to the UN’s Human Rights Council Sixteenth session.