Enhancing Soil Security for Smallholder Agriculture

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Smallholder agriculture plays a vital role in feeding and sustaining over one billion people in the developing world, particularly in ecologically and climatically vulnerable landscapes. These farmers face significant challenges, including declining productivity, insecure land tenure, insufficient infrastructure, and limited access to education, technology, and financial services. In developed countries, smallholder farmers often focus on niche markets and ecosystem services in the face of competition from large commercial farms. This chapter explores the diverse small farming systems in both developing and developed countries and their capacity to address three key challenges: meeting the increasing global demand for food, adapting to water scarcity and climate change, and ensuring sustainability. The role of soils in smallholder agriculture and their contribution to ecosystem services are emphasized, with a focus on soil security. Case studies from different regions illustrate the importance of local conditions and sustainable soil management practices. The chapter also discusses the need for a transition period and the potential of intermediate-sized farming enterprises to provide ecosystem services and enhance soil security. The evolving role of soils within the broader socioeconomic and ethical context of smallholder agriculture is highlighted, recognizing that soils are a fundamental resource for farmers worldwide. The chapter concludes by advocating for precision agriculture and transdisciplinary research to address the multifaceted challenges facing smallholder agriculture, ultimately contributing to global food security and sustainable development.
Smallholder farmers, Food security, Soil degradation
Bouma, J., N.H. Batjes, M.P.W. Sonneveld †, and P.S. Bindraban, 2014. Enhancing soil security for smallholder agriculture, in Soil Management of Smallholder Agriculture (R. Lal and B.A. Stewart, Editors). Advances in Soil Science, CRC Press, Boca Raton (FL). p. 17-37.