Despite tremendous progress in achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 736 million people live in extreme poverty on less than $ 1.90 a day. In 2017, also more than 821 million people suffered from hunger and malnutrition worldwide, according to the latest report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Although enough food is produced worldwide, access is not secured for everybody. People living in rural areas are particularly affected by hunger and undernourishment, since they cannot afford to buy food. Moreover, they often lack property and use rights to land as well as access to basic services and are excluded from policy-decision making processes. This is also visible in the agricultural and food security policy of many countries: They often neglect subsistence and smallholder farmers.

Food security is predominately a question of equal distribution of resources, goods and services. The challenges of people facing chronic food insecurity are exacerbated by massive crop failures due to climate disasters, such as droughts or floods, social conflicts and political unrest. Food and water are becoming scarce. Famines do not only lead to the loss of human life, but also potentially destabilize whole regions, causing warlike conflicts and migration.

In the last few years, the large-scale acquisition of arable land mostly by foreign investors (land grabbing) has caused additional problems in ensuring food security and living conditions for the local population. In pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) supports sustainable and inclusive land-use planning, endorses property and use rights for the local population and promotes the empowerment and participation of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in decision-making processes. ADA assists small family farmers in producing in an environmentally sustainable and resource-efficient way as well as in improving access to local and regional markets. Investments in local infrastructure (such as improvements in storage and processing) as well as extension and financial services for smallholders and producer associations contribute to encourage local value added.