KARACHI: Family and small-scale farming are inextricably linked to world food security, and it preserves traditional food products, while contributing to a balanced diet and safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources.
According to an FAO report, family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies, especially when combined with specific policies aimed at social protection and well-being of communities. Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities, and it is linked to several areas of rural development. Family farming is a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labour, including both women’s and men’s.
There are over 500 million family farms. They make up over 98% of farming holdings. They are responsible for at least 56% of agricultural production on 56% of the land. Family farmers also work on a significant portion of the world’s farming land, regional averages are: 85% in Asia; 62% in Africa; 83% in North and Central America; 68% in Europe and 18% in South America.
Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector.
At national level, there are a number of factors that are key for a successful development of family farming, such as: agro-ecological conditions and territorial characteristics; policy environment; access to markets; access to land and natural resources; access to technology and extension services; access to finance; demographic, economic and socio-cultural conditions; availability of specialized education among others.
Family farming has an important socio-economic, environmental and cultural role.
The 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.
The goal of the 2014 IYFF is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development. The 2014 IYFF will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers.