There are 2.5 billion people who live and work on 500 million smallholder farms around the world, each less than 5 acres (roughly 2 hectares).

These smallholder family farmers produce 70% of our food on 60% of the planet’s arable land, but they also represent the majority of the poorest and hungriest people on earth.

With a bit of help, smallholder farmers can significantly increase their yields and contribute to greater food security as we face a growing world population. If they use organic principles in the process of growing more food, this helps minimize climate change. If women farmers are supported along the way, this has been shown to further increase overall yields at the same time as improving life for women and girls. And if tree planting is linked to improving agriculture, farmers will become an important force in reforestation.

In order to unlock this collective potential of smallholder farmers, we have to throw away outmoded models of development assistance based on handouts and a culture of dependence. What is needed is a bold new approach that utilizes philanthropic funds to incubate sustainable, practical and farmer-owned business solutions that start by transforming families and communities but end up changing the world.