AVSF - Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières is an officially recognized non-profit association that works for international solidarity and that has been engaged in supporting smallholder farming since 1977.
AVSF reaches out to smallholder communities threatened by exclusion and poverty, offering them professional skills in agriculture, livestock farming, and animal health. In this way, AVSF supports these communities as they strive to improve their standard of living, sustainably manage the natural resources upon which they depend, and contribute to the socio-economic development of their local area. AVSF helps them defend their rights and gain better recognition for the role they play in society.
Thanks to the smallholder farming that AVSF defends, families no longer suffer from hunger, smallholders are able to live off their land and their herds, communities preserve the environment, and organizations help feed the people and defend their rights.
Nearly one billion people in the world suffer from hunger. Three-quarters of them are male and female smallholders living in precarious conditions.
If they are not dying from hunger, smallholders are suffering from exclusion as a result of: land tenure insecurity, land and water grabbing, difficulty in gaining access to transparent and fair markets, lack of funding for activities, lack of technical advising, lack of relevant research, etc. Oftentimes, smallholders simply suffer from education exclusion, or worse, cultural exclusion. In order to address these chronic problems, AVSF carries out activities aimed at tackling the structural causes of hunger and exclusion rather than the consequences. AVSF provides small producers with the resources they need to become food self-sufficient and financially independent by means of their own agricultural production rather than remain dependent on aid.
More than 500 million smallholder families produce 70% of the world’s food and help feed both cities and rural areas. Smallholder farming plays an essential role in meeting food-, environment-, and climate-related challenges and in facilitating the creation of jobs in rural areas. At the same time, however, smallholder farming must also resist the forces of exclusion that are weighing on it. AVSF works alongside more than 100 smallholder organizations in rural development programs that serve over 600,000 people. AVSF helps provide structure for them and helps strengthen their capacities, professionalism, and autonomy so that they can become drivers of their own development and thus be better able to defend their own interests. In short, AVSF is committed to supporting smallholder farming that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and socially just.
Smallholder family in Cambodia (Photo: AVSF)
Each day, thousands of smallholders have no choice but to abandon their land, heading most often for city slums and sometimes crossing national borders under extremely precarious conditions. In order to slow this massive rural exodus and combat growing insecurity in urban areas, AVSF encourages smallholders to stay on their land. In this way, AVSF supports smallholder communities in their fight to defend their rights over their land against the forces of exclusion and land grabbing. AVSF carries out activities that enable smallholder families living in poverty or exclusion to earn a decent income from growing crops and raising livestock on their own land.
Smallholder communities are suffering from the growing degradation of natural resources, particularly with respect to soil contamination, water pollution, and the loss of plant and animal biodiversity. These communities lack equitable access to natural resources and are strongly affected by the consequences of climate change (drought, cyclones, flooding, and extreme temperatures). AVSF promotes production systems that are based on the traditional know-how of smallholder farming. Such systems utilize natural resources in a more respectful way, are more resilient to climate change, and require less water, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. In short, they are models of agro-ecological production that allow for humans and nature to coexist in harmony.
AVSF works in support of smallholders and smallholder organizations in developing countries and engages in advocacy activities on their behalf in both the North and the South. AVSF’s activities also aim to create references for the development of public, local, and national policies that are favorable to smallholders.
AVSF’s work focuses on four key areas:
Securing production and increasing productivity; promoting agro-ecology; defending equitable access to natural resources (water, land, forests, and pastures); and sustainably managing resources.
Improving livestock farming, zootechnical advising (on feeding, reproduction, habitat, etc.), and equipment; establishing local veterinary services and technical assistance services for livestock farmers; facilitating the farmers' participation in veterinary public health systems; etc.
Ensuring access to water; promoting agro-ecology and agro-forestry; securing pastoralism; etc.
Improving the quality of crop and livestock products such as coffee, cocoa, quinoa, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat, etc.; structuring smallholder economic organizations into associations, groups, and cooperatives; integrating smallholder organizations into fair trade and high-quality markets; and developing short supply chains and smallholder markets.
Working the land in Senegal (Photo: M. Ndour)