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UN to declare 2014 as year of family farming: Lise Grande

Nov 22, 2013

The UN General Assembly plans to declare 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, said Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India, while speaking at a roundtable conference - ‘Small Farmers Big Stakeholders?’

New Delhi: Grande said that the idea behind this move by the UN is to highlight the contribution of small farmers towards global food security. The roundtable conference was organised by OneWorld Foundation India in partnership with the Uttarakhand-based Shri Jagdamba Samiti and the Delhi-based Image Makers to highlight concerns related to small farmers. Prof. MS Swaminathan, the man behind India’s Green Revolution, was the keynote speaker at the conference.

Small farmers are largest stakeholders for UN

Grande said that the largest stakeholders for the United Nations’ global aid are the small farmers. The aim of the international year is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in national agendas and place it right on top of the agricultural agenda, marking a shift in UN’s approach. The Food and Agricultural organisation (FAO) will be the leading agency in its implementation and will work with different stakeholders to promote the Year of Family Farming.

Five hundred million family farms

Grande also highlighted the enormous contribution of family farming, both in the developed and developing countries. Family farming constitutes the predominant form of agriculture with over 500 million family farms in the world, she added. Family farms cut a wide spectrum, from small holders to medium self-owned farms; many are owned by indigenous, peasant, traditional and fishing communities and other groups that are often seen as being marginal.

Ingrained in traditional and local cultures

The UN Resident Coordinator, who is also the UNDP Resident Representative in India, highlighted the fact that these farms preserve traditional food products that contribute to balanced diets and thereby safeguard agro-biodiversity. They are embedded in local cultures and, importantly, they spend their incomes mostly within local and regional markets. This, according to Grande, has the tertiary impact of generating agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. She also highlighted the role of local production and consumption circuits based on family farming in fighting hunger, especially when they are linked to social protection policies. In that sense, family farms are a key to achieving hunger and poverty free world.

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