About 500 million small landholder farms (<2 ha) in the world are critical to achieving global food security and alleviating poverty. Traditionally, these farms are managed by family labor, use manual or animal-driven farm tools, practice mixed farming combining crops and animals, use few external inputs, and are subsistence farms. However, small landholders are now being linked with market, grow modern varieties, use fertilizers and pesticides, and produce high yields. Improved technologies include conservation agriculture, cover cropping, water harvesting and recycling using micro-irrigation, and soil-specific farming based on the principles of precision agriculture. The principal challenges to sustainable intensification of small landholder farmers are restoring soil organic matter content, improving soil fertility, controlling soil erosion, conserving water in the root zone, and abating climate change. Rather than subsidies, payments for ecosystem services are a viable option to promote the adoption of recommended management practices.