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December 18th, 2018 / SciDev,net

The proportion of smallholder farms globally may be much larger than previously thought, suggesting that their current contribution to global food production could be underestimated, a crowdsourcing study reveals.

According to previous studies, smallholder farms — agricultural fields less than around two hectors in size — make up between 12 and 24 per cent of the global agricultural area. But the findings of a study published in Global Change Biology last month (22 November) show that smallholder farms form up to 40 per cent of the global agricultural area.

“We found that in Africa and Asia smallholder farms occupy up to 78 per cent and 72 per cent of total agricultural area respectively,” says Myroslava Lesiv, a co-author of the study and a mathematician in ecosystems services and management at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria.

Lesiv tells SciDev.Net that in Latin America highest coverage of smallholder farms could be up to 47 per cent in Colombia, 70 per cent in Ecuador and 80 per cent in Peru. Read more