The Role of Small Farms in Global Food Security and Sustainability

The Role of Small Farms in Global Food Security and Sustainability

Project Team

Navin Ramankutty, Professor, IRES; Professor, Liu Institute for Global Issues; Canada Research Chair in Food Security (PI)

Dana James, PhD Candidate, Vanier Scholar, Public Scholar, Liu Scholar, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability

Vincent Ricciardi, PhD Candidate, Liu Scholar, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability


Bejoy Thomas, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment; Arka Roy Chandhuri, Indian Statistical Institute; Ashok Kotwol, Vancouver School of Economics (UBC); Jeanine Rhemtulla, Forest and Conservation Sciences (UBC); Hannah Wittman, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (UBC); Ademir Antonio Cazella, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina; Abdon Filho Schmitt Filho, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina; Dominic Glover, University of Sussex; Pedram Rowhani, University of Sussex


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


About the Project

This project investigates fundamental relationships between farm size, the amount and type of food produced, management practices, socioeconomic and ecological contexts and outcomes, and farming practices and environmental sustainability. The research is conducted at four scales of analysis (global, national, landscape, local) and in two countries (Brazil and India). The main goals of the project are to assess the contribution of small farms to global food security, examine the context-dependency of the belief that productivity decreases as farm size increases, and examine relationships and tradeoffs between farm size and a variety of other factors, including production systems, land management practices, agro-ecological context and broader landscape diversity.

External Links and Publications

Navin Ramankutty Interview

Navin Ramankutty Bio

Ricciardi, V., Ramankutty, N., Mehrabi, Z., Jarvis, L. and Chookolingo, B. How much of the world’s food do smallholders produce? Global Food Security, 17, pp.64-72, doi: 10.1016/j.gfs.2018.05.002, 2018.

Samberg, L.H., Gerber, J.S., Ramankutty, N., Herrero, M., West, P.C., 2016. Subnational distribution of average farm size and smallholder contributions to global food production. Environmental Research Letters 11, 124010. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/12/124010