Small holder farmers are key actors in the global food system, producing roughly 80 percent of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Yet, the voices of small holder farmers are often neglected by policy makers when trade deals are negotiated or regulations established. Increasing the participation of small holder farmers in agricultural trade has the potential to boost livelihoods, improve food security, and fuel economic growth.
Within an international trade regime marked by ever-more-stringent quality and safety standards, sophisticated value-chains, and byzantine contracts, the challenge of linking smallholders to markets is no simple task. Considering the increasing importance of agricultural trade to food security, it is also not a task that we can afford to ignore.
What is the role of small holder farmers in the global exchange of agricultural goods? What barriers do trade regulations and standards impose for small holders to access local, regional, and global markets? How can we build an enabling environment for trade in which smallholders can participate more fully?