If the world is to transition towards agrifood systems that are more sustainable and equitable, small-scale production systems will be key to progress. Large parts of the world depend on small-scale systems for maintaining food security and nutrition (Lowder, Sánchez and Bertini, 2021; Herrero et al., 2017). Despite this centrality, neither small-scale production systems nor small-scale producers have received due recognition under predominant agrifood systems paradigms.
This paper analyzes the diversity of small-scale producers and demonstrates how understanding small-scale production can have consequences for how policies and investments are directed and how they impact small-scale producer livelihoods. The diverse roles and functions of small-scale production are presented as being essential to realizing sustainable agrifood systems transformations and respecting its social, environmental and economic dimensions. Constraints faced by small-scale producers in accessing the assets, financial and knowledge services, and market positioning that can support profitable livelihoods are examined.
This publication provides recommendations for expanding the potential of small-scale producers for sustainable agrifood systems transformations across the following areas:
- create an enabling environment to support the multifunctionality of small-scale production;
- address the economic and social marginalization of small-scale producers;
- ensure the political voice and participation of small-scale producers in agrifood systems governance;
- increase access of small-scale producers to natural and productive resources;
- improve access to financial services;
- improve the market positioning of small-scale producers;
- support the co-creation and exchange of knowledge and innovation for sustainable small-scale production.