The State of Family Farms in the World

Benjamin E. Graeub, Michael Jahi Chappell, Hannah Wittman, Samuel Ledermann, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Barbara Gemmill-Herren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

339 Citations (Scopus)
320 Downloads (Pure)


Summary 2014 was the United Nations’ International Year of Family Farming, yet the importance of family farming for global food security is still surprisingly poorly documented. In a review of agricultural census data, we find that globally family farms constitute over 98% of all farms, and work on 53% of agricultural land. Across distinct contexts, family farming plays a critical role for global food production. We present two examples of policy approaches toward family farmers—Brazil and Malawi—to provide insight into some of the complexities and challenges behind the global numbers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalWorld Development
Early online date15 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • family farming
  • smallholder agriculture
  • Brazil
  • Malawi
  • food and nutrition security
  • sustainable development


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