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Family farming is key to a hunger free world: Lise Grande

Nov 22, 2013

Family farms are the main producers of the foodstuff consumed every day in our meals, says Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India.

Lise Grande

New Delhi: The UN General Assembly has declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). Today, on 22 November, the Year of Family Farming is set to be formally launched in UN HQs New York. Small farmers are the UN’s largest group of stakeholders.

The aim of the Family Farming Year is to reposition family farming and put it at the very centre of agricultural, environmental and social agendas. The IYFF has been promoted by the World Rural Forum in collaboration with major regional networks of family farmers’ organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. FAO is the lead agency facilitating its implementation, in collaboration with Governments, International development agencies, and global, regional, national and local farmers’ organizations.

In choosing to celebrate and draw attention to family farming the UN’s General Assembly is recognising the enormous contributions and role of family farming around the world:

Family Farming is the predominant form of agriculture both in developed and developing countries:

  • There are over 500 million farms in the world which are managed and operated by a family and which rely predominantly on family labour.
  • Family farms range from small-hold to medium scale farmers and are managed by peasants, indigenous peoples, traditional communities, fisher folks, pastoralists, collectors and many other groups in the regions and biomes of the world.

Family Farming is a key pillar of sustainable agricultural development:

  • Family farmers use crop-diversification-based agricultural systems and preserve traditional food products, contributing both to a balanced diet and to safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity.
  • Family farmers are embedded in territorial networks and local cultures, and spend their incomes mostly within local and regional markets, generating many agricultural and non agricultural jobs.
  • Local production and consumption circuits based on family farming have a major part to play in fighting hunger, especially when they are linked to social protection policies that address the needs of vulnerable people.

Family farming is key for achieving a hunger and poverty free world:

  • Family farms are the main producers of the foodstuff consumed every day in our meals.
  • Over 70 percent of the food insecure population in the world lives in rural areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East. Over one-third of this population lives in India. Ironically, and sadly, many of the food insecure people are in fact family farmers, especially smallholders who have poor access to natural resources, credit and technologies.
  • Poor family farmers adapt quickly and can quickly unleash their productivity potential when the right kind of policies are put in place.

During the International Year, discussions will focus on how to promote family farming and protect the people who do it. This includes:

  • Facilitatingand safeguarding access to land, water and other natural resources and implementing specific public policies for family farmers, especially women
  • Ensuringthatcredit, technical assistance and insurance is affordable and available for family farmers
  • Improving market access for family famers by linking their production through public purchases to food-based safety net programmes
  • Ensuring that appropriate technologiesfor increasing agricultural productivity are affordable and accessible

The International Year will provide us with a number of important opportunities:

  • IYFFwill give the world a chance to show that family farmers are uniquely placed to move towards more productive and sustainable food systems if policy environments support them in this path
  • It will help the world tohighlight the strategic role of family farmers in agricultural and rural development and will help to strengthen their capacities
  • It will encourage Governments to show their political commitment to family farming through juridical frameworks, institutions and policies
  • It will help to establish platforms for policy dialogue with family farmers’ organizations to build and implement effective policies
  • It will foster policy dialogue among all stakeholders and help building concrete and sustainable solutions for productivity in perpetuity
  • Throughout the year, we will have a chance to celebrate the kind of important work being done by civil society organizationsin India including the OneWorld Foundation and the Uttarakhand-based Sri JagadambaSamiti (SJS).

In support of the IYFF, we are very pleased that the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Family Farming will be held in India, hosted by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and co-organized by FAO. It is scheduled in the first week of August 2014, with more than 150 participants from over 30 countries.The aim of the Conference is to consider the practical lessons and scientific bases of Family Farming to providepolicy makers with sharp arguments and solid evidence for real policies that can amplify the contributions made by Family Farmers to social and political as well as economic and sustainable development.

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