During 2002-2006, I led the United Nations Millennium Project, which aimed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, for then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. One cornerstone of the project was smallholder farmers, meaning peasant farm families in Africa, Latin America, and Asia - working farms of around one hectare (2.5 acres) or less. These are some of the poorest households in the world, and, ironically, some of the hungriest as well, despite being food producers.
They are hungry because they lack the ability to buy high-yield seeds, fertilizer, irrigation equipment, and other tools needed to increase productivity. As a result, their output is meager and insufficient for their subsistence. Their poverty causes low farm productivity, and low farm productivity reinforces their poverty. It's a vicious circle, technically known as a poverty trap.
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