It is an outrage that rural small-scale farmers in developing countries, who grow a third of our global food, are paid a pittance for their work, stated the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
He also urged world leaders attending the UN Food Systems Summit on Thursday, September 23, to take concrete actions to change this.
"It is a terrible irony that those who grow our food cannot afford to feed their own families healthy, nutritious diets," said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD.
"With no savings and no access to capital, farming families also have no cushion against climate change and other shocks. Today's Food Systems Summit is our chance to commit to concrete changes. We mustn't squander this opportunity," he added.
The majority of rural people in developing countries earn their incomes from agriculture. Rural small-scale farmers produce over 30% of global food, and up to 80% in parts of Africa and Asia.
According to a recent study of a number of crops sourced from small-scale farms in developing countries, only 6.5% of the supermarket price is paid to the farmer. Traders, food manufacturers and retailers take the lion's share.
According to IFAD's Rural Development Report released earlier this week, the growing concentration of power within food systems have seen profits for large food companies escalate, while people working to produce, process and distribute our food are trapped in poverty and hunger. Inadequate incomes are a major reason why around 3 billion people cannot afford healthy diets.
"When rural people are paid fairly for their labour, the ripple effect is enormous. Profitable small farms put children through school, pay for diverse, healthy diets, generate employment, and boost rural economies," said Houngbo.
"Conversely, poverty and hunger are key drivers of migration, conflict and instability. Which future do we want?"
IFAD is calling on governments to work with the private sector to implement policies that promote employment generation, decent wages and improved working conditions, and to ensure small-scale producers can access existing and emerging markets on fair terms.
Thursday’s Food Systems Summit intended to result in actionable commitments from heads of state and other leaders. Following this, IFAD will co-lead the Decent Wages and Living Income coalition with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and support of CARE to advance this important work.