Family Farming

The majority of the world’s poor depend on their surrounding landscapes for multiple ecosystem services that underpin their livelihoods. Seventy percent of the 1.4 billion people living on less than US$ 1.25 a day live in rural areas where agriculture is a major livelihood activity, and where the majority only has access to small (<2 ha) areas of agricultural land.  We need to make a substantial investment in agriculture to reduce the yield gap in smallholder farms with the intention to increase food security and reduce poverty. To do this it is important to ensure that investment in change is done without unintentional trade-off and with an increase in all ecosystem services on which the population depends.

FARMERS are creating innovation and new technologies to solve commonly faced FAMILY FARM challenges. Here are a few new leading edge technology solutions supporting small and medium sized farms. Permaculture and Agriculture forums, crowd sourcing, agriculture accelerators, and farmer-founded start-ups are finding new life and a place in the Asia market. We need more ways to increase ecosystem services, increase yields and small farm incomes.

CAPACITY BUILDING examples for Women <= click here

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and SNV, a Dutch international organization, created the Alliance for Inclusive Business. The goal of the Alliance is to contribute towards poverty reduction through the implementation of commercially viable initiatives led by the private sector. The Alliance has focused on the implementation of inclusive business ventures in ten countries in Latin America. Inclusive Businesses are entrepreneurial initiatives that are economically profitable and environmentally and socially responsible. Underpinned by a philosophy of creating mutual value, Inclusive Businesses contribute to improving the quality of life of low income communities by integrating them in the business value chain.

OneWorld South Asia is using mobile phones and voice technology to provide relevant farming information to more than 150,000 households in 1,000 villages. The program, LifeLines Agriculture, allows farmers, especially those that are illiterate, to use telephone kiosks or cell phones to call and ask questions. Then the farmer calls back within 24 to 72 hours to receive the answer to their question. More than 460,000 questions have been answered with the help of Field Coordinators.

In Kenya, M-Farm is a technology tool for smallholder farmers to receive information on the retail price of their products. Farmers use SMS to buy farm inputs from manufacturers and connect to markets. M-Farm was founded by three women – Jamila Abass, Susan Eve, and Linda – who won a 48-hour bootcamp competition. Members can access market information and post in the online marketplace.

In India, Digital Green uses technology to support agriculture, health, and nutrition. Working with existing extension programs, Digital Green uses an ICT-based approach to exchange information. They capture innovative practices in different villages and share the solutions with rest of the world using video. The video equipment is low cost, durable, and easy to use, according to Digital Green. The production team, made up of 4-6 community members, captures the agricultural or health innovation in an eight to ten minute video, then screens the video in small community groups to disseminate the information.

Farm Show is a crowdsourced magazine that has compiled more than 25,000 farmer-made inventions and ideas. Farm Show puts together stories on the best and worst products purchased by farmers, allows farmers to submit “made it myself” innovations, and share money, saving, repairs, and maintenance shortcuts. A yearly subscription costs US$23.95.

Farm Hack is an open-source community for farmers to share knowledge and innovation. Community members share their homemade innovations in the Farm Hack forum. The user WiM shared a farmbicycle that manages weeds, planting, and harvesting. Another user, Emily Hanson, submitted a prototype for a garden-swing-powered water pump that is able to pump 3 liters of water per minute. And user pjenkins showed community members how to build a wheel hoe from old bike parts. These are low-cost solutions to challenges farmer face around the world.

FarmLogs, a farmer-founded company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, helps farmers track important information. Using satellite images, FarmLogs maps farmers’ land to help them stay organized. The system has 10 years of rainfall history embedded, and farmers can check the current rainfall without having to go to their field. The technology also helps farmers know when crops are under heat stress. The information is cloud-based and synced in real-time so the whole farm team is able to see up to date statistics.

Computers: In Chicago, IL, 640 Labs is an organization helping provide farmers with the technology to track the data that comes from their farm machinery via the 640Drive. The device plugs into a standard diagnostic port of any farming equipment and uploads data to a cell phone or tablet so farmers can see, in real time, how machines are operating. It tracks planting, application, harvest, and tillage. This information has traditionally been not collectible or required farmers to enter data manually. The automatically-uploaded information is stored in the 640 Labs platform, and is kept there for years so farmers can reference historical data and analyze it compared to current operations

ORGANIZATIONS that provide EDUCATION and CIVIC engagement to drive change in global food systems.

WWOOF Thailand

A network of small family farms that host youth and families and provide accomidation. Cultural exchange farming skills, music, cultural and valuable friendship.

Art 4 Agriculture
A network to connect young rural Australians, Art 4 Agriculture is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of Australian farmers in the food system. Art 4 Agriculture works to improve the image of farming and encourage other young Australians to consider agricultural careers. Through art, community, and career events, the organization engages students in issues related to the environment, natural resources, and farming.

Delivering Environmental and Social Multiple Benefits from REDD+ in South East Asia (MB-REDD)



a resource for development workers within Asia who wish to experiment with underutilized crops as they work to improve the lives of the poor. The Seedbank maintains a collection of hard-to-find seeds that thrive under difficult growing conditions in the tropics and sub-tropics.


acquire free small sample packets, or purchase bulk orders of selected seeds. For more information regarding the seeds currently offered, please see the ECHO Asia Seed Catalog.


Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition’s Young Earth Solutions (BCFN YES!)

BCFN YES! is a laboratory for the innovative solutions of young people to the problems of hunger, food sustainability, nutrition, and fairness. Ten finalists from the 2015 competition will participate in the 7th International Forum on Food and Nutrition at the Milan EXPO 2015 to engage with international leaders on food sustainability topics. This year’s finalists include Oluwafemi Ajayi, who is using traditional snack foods to fight protein-energy malnutrition in Nigeria, and Achmad Solikhin, who is implementing sustainable agroforestry in Indonesia.

Centre for Environment Education (CEE)

The CEE implements regional projects throughout India to support sustainable rural development and involve young people in ecological agriculture and conservation activities. Projects include rainwater harvesting, sustainable livestock management, and village-level management of agroecological zones. Young people are involved as stakeholders in many projects and are afforded educational opportunities through CEE’s programming.

EARTH University
EARTH University is an educational institution focused in Latin America and the Caribbean that has been preparing young leaders for the last 25 years for careers in sustainable development. The students that graduate from EARTH’s programs in agricultural science and natural resources management go on to serve as entrepreneurs in their communities, alleviating hunger, promoting social justice and sustainable development.

Foodways Consulting GmbH
Foodways Consulting is a Swiss consulting company that works to create and implement food system solutions. MyFood30, a recent project created in collaboration with the Swiss National Food and Agriculture Organization Committee, is working to engage youth with the Sustainable Development Goals. The campaign will provide young people with the education, training, and networking needed to cultivate a better food system.

Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN)
GYIN develops young farmers and rural entrepreneurship to through training, knowledge management, and direct support for resilient rural enterprises that reduce poverty by creating work opportunities for young people. A three-year project called the Youth Entrepreneurship and Agribusiness Program (YEAP) will serve more than 80 countries in the GYIN network, especially in West and Central Africa.

Global Youth Leadership Institute (GYLI)

GYLI is a nonprofit organization created by educators to empower young people to become agents of positive change in many areas, including the food system. Through a three-year sequence of international experiential education programs for high school students, GYLI trains students to become civically engaged as environmental stewards and champions of multiculturalism. GYLI not only offers truly unique and transformative experiences for young people but also provides them with skills to become leaders in their communities through post-curricular activities and alumni networking.

Green Shoots Foundation
The Green Shoots Foundation helps people in need around the world provide for their families through economic empowerment. Green Shoot’s Education Loans and Social Entrepreneurship (ELSE) Program works to ensure that every child has access to education. The ELSE Program in Mumbai provides loans to families to help fund girl’s education.

The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative

Many young American Indians are increasingly employed by agriculture and are interested in reversing negative health trends within their communities. Located at the University of Arkansas, the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative is the nation’s first law school initiative focusing on tribal food systems, agriculture, and community sustainability. The project aims to increase enrollment in food-related disciplines at land grant universities by supporting existing students and creating pipeline programs for youth.

International Association of Students in Agriculture related Sciences (IAAS)
IAAS brings together students all over the world through a shared passion for agriculture and related sciences. With committees in over 30 countries, the organization enables students to learn about agriculture in different countries and to share experiences, knowledge, and ideas.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Across the globe, IFAD’s programs work to reflect the needs and views of young rural people, to address the challenges that they face, and to create incentives to make rural life an attractive and viable livelihood option. Targeted activities help young people transition into rural employment and agriculture, creating a supportive environment for agricultural entrepreneurs and improving access to key resources such as land and water.

Mkulima Young
Mkulima Young, an initiative that works to encourage youth participation in agriculture and provide services for rural entrepreneurs, offers online support to young Kenyans. The project addresses problems affecting young farmers’ productivity and marketing, including middlemen offering meager prices for their produce, delays with payments, and expensive farm inputs. Young farmers often sell their products online by posting pictures, and can connect with one another via online forums.

National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC)

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) is an organization for start-up young farmers with 10 years or fewer of farming experience in the United States. NYFC works to transfer the energy and momentum of global and national youth movements into the agricultural sector and drive policy change to support new farmers. Through shared experiences, start-up farmers address issues of revitalizing American agriculture and family farms.

Real Food Challenge (RFC)

RFC is a national movement of young people in the U.S. to shift college and university dining budgets to more local, fair, ecologically sound, and humane foods. To date, RFC has worked with more than 4,000 students at over 400 schools to achieve US$80 million in purchasing commitments that nourish land, labor, communities, and consumers. The University of Utah and the University of Oklahoma were among the colleges who signed the Real Food Campus Commitment in 2015.

Rural Youth Europe

Founded in 1957, Rural Youth Europe now involves 21 member organizations from 18 countries and more than 500,000 young people. Through leadership training, courses, seminars, exchanges, and other practical activities, youth across Europe are united to promote rural development, environmentalism, youth participation, human rights, and intercultural diversity.

Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN)
SFYN is an international youth network working to shift food production and consumption toward sustainable and fair food. From October 3-6, 2015, the SFYN will host a discussion in conjunction with the Milan EXPO 2015, entitled “Terra Madre Giovani – We Feed The Planet.” The event will include thousands of young people focusing on solutions for small-scale farmers and food producers.

Toronto Youth Food Policy Council

Young people all over the world are increasingly involved in food policy, advocating for change and contributing their voices to local food policy councils. In Toronto, young people have formed their own food policy council to engage youth to create change through an online network, at bi-monthly community meetings, through youth council members, and through facilitation of committee work.

Water Resources Action Project, Inc. (WRAP)
WRAP is a non-profit organization working to improve public health in Israel, Palestine, the U.S. and Jordan through water stewardship and rainwater harvesting. Through environmental education that connects Arab, Jewish, and Christian students in underserved communities, the project works to combat dire water shortages and develop youth capacity for peacebuilding. The project is a member of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP).

Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD)

YPARD is a global network of young agriculture and development professionals creating solutions for sustainable agricultural development. YPARD enables its young members to share knowledge and information, participate in meetings and debates, promote agriculture among young people, and organize workshops.


Youthaiti is a nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of rural young people through sustainable agriculture and reforestation. Centered in the village of Duchity, Haiti, home to the last indigenous forest in the country, the youth-led project focuses on developing organic gardens, using recycled waste as fertilizer, and making charcoal from garden byproducts to prevent further deforestation.


Women farmers in Asia

With support from the Western Center for Risk Management Education, and a similar  needs assessment of  Asia’s Women Farmers.  We are assessing the training needs and opportunities related to agricultural risks and the awareness and use of available risk management strategies and tools in Asia.  Results will be used to develop risk management training for women farmers.



Global Forum on Agricultural Research