4-6 March 2014. Budapest, Hungary. The FAO and the Hungarian Ministry of Rural Development organised a Global Forum to identify the various political, policy, business and social elements that play a role in the complex environment in which family farms operate. The overall objective was to find ways in which economies and communities could benefit from the values that family farms represent in food production, management of natural resources, biodiversity, human relations and the preservation of cultural heritage.
African speakers: (see programme)
  • Mr Francis F. Ngang, Secretary General, Inades-Formation (Cote d’Ivoire)
  • Mr Ibrahima Coulibaly, IYFF Special Ambassador for Africa (Mali)
  • Mr Mohamed Ould Saleck, IYFF Special Ambassador for North Africa and the Near East (Mauritania)
  • Ms Claire Regina Quenum, IYFF-2014 National Committee, World Rural Forum (Togo)
The main findings of the two day event, which emerged from the ministerial roundtable and the three parallel panel discussions, are the following:

  • Even if family farms differ to a large extent from region to region, they have values that all nations share and challenges that all nations need to tackle.
  • Most smallholder farms are family-based and make a significant contribution to global food and nutrition security. However, family farms and the countries in which they operate are diverse in many ways and the solutions offered for them should be tailored for this diversity.
  • Farmers need a high enough income to maintain their rural livelihoods and not to move to urban areas in the hope for a better life. To this end, a decent price for their produce and services needs to be obtained.
  • Limited access to land and other natural resources, knowledge, education and financing are seriously hindering family farming development globally. Best practices of coping mechanisms should be widely disseminated.
  • Co-operation could offer access to investment, technology and markets making family farming viable. An enabling environment, including a clear and simple legislation and a proper taxation system is crucial for the development of co-operatives and farmers’ organisations. Socially responsible partnerships with civil society organizations and with the private sector can play an important role in the promotion of co-operation.
  • Women are the backbone of family farming but their large contribution is not duly recognized in terms of income earned and access to productive resources and assets. If both women and men have adequate access to productive resources, rural societies can become more resilient. Hence, women’s meaningful participation in decision making processes should be enabled. We should continue raising awareness on the role of women in family farming management and promote women’s equal access to land, credit, education, technology, networks and decision-making processes.
  • Youth are increasingly losing interest in agriculture and are migrating away from rural areas in search for job opportunities in other sectors. In order to provide young farmers with adequate livelihoods, appropriate income, targeted policies, programs and projects are essential.
  • The common ground among the views expressed reflects the key position that family farms occupy in sustainable agriculture. Since we all want our agrarian systems and rural networks to be sustainable, we must strive to support family farms.
  • Economic sustainability is essential for family farming. Viable farming helps to keep young people on the farm. We also need pragmatic co-operation and responsible actions from different stakeholders: especially government, business, farmers and civil society.
  • Environmental regulations should take into account the measured and internalised positive and negative externalities of different types of family farming. Traditional family farming strongly contributes to environmental sustainability. New environmental challenges should be answered by participative research, knowledge transfer and Life Long Learning.
  • The social sustainability of family farming is based on the next generation’s willingness to take part in farming and the society valuing the culture behind traditional family farming.

Food Tank released a new research report called Food Tank By the Numbers: Family Farming. You can share an article about the report with a link to the complementary download by clicking HERE.

The report proves that family farms—farms or ranches owned and operated by families—are not only feeding the world, but also nourishing the planet. Family Farms are developing effective ways to address global food security, increase income, protect biodiversity, and conserve the environment for a growing populatio

Highlights from the report:

  • Recent research by FAO shows that, in their global sample, over 98 percent of farms are family farms and these produce at least 56 percent of the world’s agricultural production. In many countries, the contribution of family farmers to food production far surpasses their share of land holdings.
  • Family farming makes up the majority of agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa,where approximately 33 million farms in the region, or 80 percent, are smallholder farms.
  • More than 80 percent of all agricultural holdings measure less than two hectares in size and are thus managed by smallholder farmers.
  • All farmers can have a direct impact on nutrition through the crops that they choose to grow and consume, as well as through post-harvest and preparation methods.
  • Smallholder farmers utilize farming practices that preserve biodiversity—not just for nutrition and taste—but also because cultivating a wide variety of species helps insulate farmers against risk of plant disease, and crop diversity promotes soil health and increases yields.
  • Diversified and indigenous crops are typically more resilient to climate change and extreme weather conditions.
  • The use of organic fertilizers by family farms has been proven to be effective in reducing soil degradation.
  • Smallholder farmers typically use innovative technologies to conserve resources. Drip irrigation methods used in Benin, for example, can save between 30 and 60 percent more water than conventional methods.
  • Evidence shows smallholder and family farming can be the key to mitigation of the negative effects of climate change and improving food security.
  • If 10,000 small- and medium-sized farms converted to organic, sustainable production, the environmental effect in terms of carbon sequestration would be equivalent to removing over one million cars from the road.
  • In Vietnam, land tenure reforms that provide private land use rights to smallholder farmers have had a significant and positive effect on agricultural productivity, as well as increasing household incomes.
  • Mobile phone technology has been instrumental in breaking down barriers that smallholder, rural farmers, especially women, face in accessing markets.
  • Despite growth of large-scale farms around the world, smallholder and family farming still make up the majority of global agriculture.

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