Small-scale farmers: Saviours of world crop diversity

small scale farmers save food biodiversity

As much as 75 percent of global seed diversity in staple food crops is held and actively used by a wide range of small farmholders — workers of less than three to seven acres, who are predominantly women.

These farmers, who often themselves live precariously, are a living seedbank keeping the genetic diversity of food plants flourishing. These small-scale farmers are planting different localised varieties, nurturing heirlooms and increasing differentiation by trialling natural hybridisations.

With more than 30,000 edible plants in the world, over half of our food comes from only three. Food biodiversity is the key to resilience and the small-holders are keeping those keys for us. They should be looked after a lot better. Support your local growers. Find ways to support those growers in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nepal Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Nicaragua, Colombia and Peru who are doing the hard work.


Penn State. “World crop diversity survives in small farms from peri-urban to remote rural locations.” ScienceDaily. (accessed February 17, 2015).

Photo credit – Chilombiano at Morguefile