Sustainable intensification of smallholder family farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa


Smallholder family farmers in sub-Saharan Africa face important challenges being at the verge between subsistence agriculture (staple food production) and international agricultural markets (e.g. coffee and cocoa). Agricultural productivity and farmers’ health are intimately connected. Many farmers have limited awareness regarding the health consequences of exposure to pesticides, micronutrient deficiencies, lack of water and sanitation and hygiene. In addition, land resources have become scarce in many settings due to the growth of the population, and permanent cultivation is no longer a feasible production approach. This requires new production techniques and measures for maintaining soil fertility and adaptation to upcoming climate change effects. Land use rights are often uncertain, which leads to conflicts and land grabbing. Research and vocational education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa required North-South collaboration and partnership to facilitate the necessary transition.


Creating a knowledge base to develop strategies for sustainable intensification of smallholder family farms and implement and evaluate those new farming systems. Moreover, it is planned to conduct training and capacity building at all levels.

Expected Benefits

In partner country: Strengthening of the national research and extension efforts through the direct link to Swiss agricultural education and training infrastructure. The collaborative and transdisciplinary approach towards sustainable intensification will spread to neighbouring countries as it will be promoted by the trained professionals.

In Switzerland: For the Swiss food industry, the productivity of sub-Saharan African smallholders is of vital interest for the provision of commodities such as coffee and cocoa. Additionally, the Swiss companies transforming local staple foods in African countries have a keen interest in reliable and sustainable production of high quality commodities.

Contact Information

Günther Fink, phone: +41 61 284 83 54.

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel in Collaboration with Agroscope

Sustainable intensification of smallholder family farming systems
Sustainable intensification of smallholder family farming systems

Partner countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda

Research Partners: ETH Zürich, technical universities such as HAFL, agricultural colleges, AGRIDEA, Centre Suisse de Recherche Scientifique en Côte d’Ivoire, CSRS

Cost: CHF 20 Mio

Duration: 4 years