The Brutal Math of the One Acre Farm

We hear a lot about industrial farming and big farms but what happens if all the farmer has is one acre? Can he/she make a successful livelihood? A small change in variables, it seems, can bring about a big change on the one acre farm and in the life of the farmer.

Campaign for Boring Development

As facts go, the facts of the small African farm are grim, and seldom grasped. You need to start here, though, because 70% of the world’s poorest people live on very small farms.

Their poverty is nothing but straightforward: if you’re farming the size of farm the poorest farm, with the kind of technology the poorest have access to and getting the yields that pass for normal in the poorest countries, you just don’t produce enough calories to feed  even two adults –

[A note on sources is at the end.]

A household working one acre at South Sudanese yields just can’t feed itself. Notice, we’re talking calories here. So this is before we even start thinking about protein, or micronutrients, to say nothing of the thousand other things people need to survive (cookware, salt, oil, housing, clothes, etc. etc. etc.) It doesn’t get more elemental than this.

The second column…

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