The effects of COVID19 have been severe in developing countries. It has been a particularly difficult time for informal small-scale farmers who live in rural areas and lack formal safety nets. These farmers are the cornerstone of national food security strategies. In this perspective paper, we discuss how circular economy principles could help these farmers reduce their states of vulnerability whilst engaging with nonlinear pathways of formalization. We argue that circular principles can go hand-in-glove with processes of formalization as long as interventions are made to help informal small-scale farmers overcome structural problems. We make a series of recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders.