Globally, more than 1 billion people are employed in agriculture and the majority are smallholder farmers (SHF) in low-income countries. These farmers usually live in rural areas with limited access to transportation, financial services, and telecommunication. Their challenge is complex: generations of poverty and exclusion, compounded by increased competition over land, over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, lack of available water for irrigation, massive urban migration, and shocks caused by climate change, including floods and drought. Moreover, demand for smallholder agricultural finance is significant – and largely unmet. Financial institutions are only meeting $50 billion of the more than $200 billion needed for smallholder finance in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia.
Yet smallholder farmers are productive: they account for 80% of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world. In fact, 500 million smallholder farmers who cultivate less than two hectares of land feed one-third of all people on earth.