For many of us, it was a startling claim.

We know that there are as many as 500 million smallholder farms supporting about 2.5 billion people. We also know that, according to the UN, they provide over 80 percent of the food consumed in the developing world. We see these realities as we partner with diverse organizations and global companies so that more and more supply chains move toward responsible practices.

The unexpected claim, made at our February masters webinar on scaling and innovation came from a widely respected expert on agricultural economics: Tom Reardon. He noted that today’s supply chain efforts are not nearly enough. With other respected economists Julio Berdegué and Gilles Cliché, they calculate that less than 5 percent of the world’s small farmers are directly engaged in multinational supply chains!

There are unfortunately no easy answers to better orient efforts toward this large swath operating outside of global supply chains. And yet, there are solid tools to help us. Pragmatic resilience indicators developed by COSA in collaboration with leading NGOs are now being tested in Syria, Peru, and India. Performance Monitoring is another low-cost tool to quickly ascertain (in real-time) what is working and what is not for small farmers – this example illuminates the heightened risk of farmers not wanting to produce in some areas.

I look forward to hearing your views and do join us for one of the upcoming webinars listed below. Our appreciation to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) for making this possible.