Classifying farms for better policy analysis

Farm typology is a concept used to classify agricultural holdings by multiple dimensions. It covers all farms, including the small units that produce mainly for own-consumption and regardless of the legal status of the holder.

The development of a Farm typology with policy relevance to be applied to farms throughout the world has been identified as an important potential component of the long-term framework for the improvement of agricultural statistics in the context of the research component of the Global Strategy. The classification of farms in homogeneous types will (1) enable the analysis of their structure, performance and sustainability, (2) allow the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies that focus on different aspects of sustainable development, (3) provide at national level elements for more efficient sample design through stratification of the vastly diversified population of agricultural holdings.

Farm typology will cover agricultural holdings as defined at national level and focus on crops and livestock activities. The classification will be based on several dimensions regarded as important by the development experts, namely: farm size, commodity specialization, market orientation and diversification, etc. For national purposes, countries may add other dimensions which however have to be compatible with the international ones.

Different sources of data can be used for the establishment of the farm typology, for example  individual farm data from an agricultural census or farm structure survey, an agricultural section of population census or other household surveys, production or prices surveys.  An important source of data for the development of farm typology will be the AGRIS programme (core and rotating modules), developed under the Global Strategy.