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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Second in the series of the public debates was held on 28 January 2013 at Kings Place, London


Smallholder Farming and the Future of Food

500 million smallholder farmers support over 2 billion people, yet for many, their future looks increasingly uncertain.

What is the way forward for smallholders and for the future of food?

Video of the Question and Answer session is available below:

Video recordings of all the debate sessions are available from the University Streaming Service:

Themes discussed at the second debate:

•  Smallholder farming and productivity

•  Food production and sustainable livelihoods

•  Agricultural intensification and expansion of cultivation

•  High-yielding agriculture and ‘land sparing’


Olivier de Schutter

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Olivier De Schutter (LL.M., Harvard University ; Ph.D., University of Louvain (UCL)), the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food since May 2008, is a Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain and at the College of Europe (Natolin). He is also a Member of the Global Law School Faculty at New York University and is Visiting Professor at Columbia University. In 2002-2006, he chaired the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights and has been the General Secretary of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) on the issue of globalization and human rights since 2004.


france marion guillou

Dr Marion Guillou

President INRA, France 
Marion Guillou holds a doctorate in physico-chemistry, is a general engineer of the French Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, and a member of the French Academy of Agriculture. After being the Director-General of INRA from August 2000 to July 2004, Marion Guillou was nominated President of INRA in 2004. In 2009 she became President of AGREENIUM, the National Consortium for agriculture, food, animal health and the environment, founded by INRA, CIRAD, AgroParisTech, Agrocampus Ouest, Montpellier SupAgro and ENV Toulouse in order to face the global challenges.

Marion Guillou's Video presentation

Judi Wakhungu

Professor Judi Wakhungu

Executive Director, African Centre for Technology Studies, Nairobi, Kenya Professor Judi Wakhungu is the Executive Director of the African Center for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Nairobi, Kenya. She was most recently an Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Pennsylvania State University where she also served as the Director of the Women in the Sciences & Engineering (WISE) Institute. Prof. Wakhungu’s research interests include energy resources management; materials; energy policy and development; science, technology, and development; and gender issues in science and technology policy.

Judy Wakhungu's Video presentation

sam dryden

Sam Dryden

Director, Agricultural Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Sam Dryden, director of agricultural development, oversees foundation efforts to help millions of the world’s poorest farming families boost their productivity and incomes.

Sam Dryden's Video presentation

Useful reading

Cambridge public debates in global food security organisers, Dr David Nally and Dr Bhaskar Vira, discuss the issues of smallholder farming and the new vision for agriculture:

University of Cambridge Research News blog interviews

How do smallholder farmers fit into the big picture of world food production?

"Small-scale sustainable agriculture may offer a better route out of poverty as well as a path to food sufficiency"


Guardian Newspaper Food Security blog: 

Davos 2013: new vision for agriculture is old news for farmers

The media spotlight is on the role of smallholder farmers in poverty reduction and food security, but what they need is action on land rights and support to stand up to powerful partners.