What is Family Farming?
Family farming is defined as a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on non-wage family labour, including both men’s and women’s. Family farmers produce most of the food consumed in developing nations and use over 80% of the land in Asia and Africa.
Globally family farming is one of the most predominant forms of agriculture, both in developing and in developed nations. Worldwide 1.5 billion people are estimated to be involved in family farming. There are approximately 500 million small family farms across the developed and developing world, of which 280 million are in China and India alone. Family and small-scale farming are inextricably linked to world food security.
Family farming sector comprises a wide spectrum of farm sizes and types ranging from very large holdings in high- income economies that are easily by one or two family members with the use of labour-saving machinery and hired labour to the small holdings of a few hectares or less in low-income economies.
At national level, there are a number of factors that are key for 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; and availability of specialized education, among others. Family farming has an important socio-economic, environmental and cultural role.
Concept of Family Farming
The concept of family farming covers various elements. From a sociological perspective, family farming is associated with family values such as solidarity, continuity and commitment. In economic terms, family farming is identified with specific entrepreneurial skills, business ownership and management choice and risk behaviour, resilience and individual behaviour. Family farming is often more than a professional occupation because it reflects a lifestyle based on beliefs and traditions, living and work.
Importance of Family Farming
• Family farming preserves traditional food products, while contributing to a balanced diet and safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.
• Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies, especially when combined with specific policies aimed at social protection and well being of communities.
• It generates food and income for hundreds of millions of rural people, including the poor and marginalized.
• Family farming creates jobs for women, men and young people, both within their family farms and in related enterprises along food and agricultural value chains.
• It provides models of adaptability and resilience for more sustainable food production.
Challenges Faced by Family Farmers
• Climate change and climate variability.
• Limited access to financial resources, inputs, technology, training, research and advisory services and education.
• Lack of tenure security in a context of increasing competition for land and water and inadequate governance of land tenure.
• Price volatility and limited access to market.
International Year of Family Farming
2014 was designated as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) at the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it has the objective of raising the profile of family farming by focusing world attention on its role in alleviating hunger and poverty, providing food security and improving livelihoods, while protecting the environment and biodiversity. It announced that family farming and smallholder farming were important for sustainable food production to achieve food security. The year focuses on solutions to combat poverty and hunger.
The International Year of Family Farming aims to promote new development policies, particularly at the national but also regional levels, that will help smallholder and family farmers eradicate hunger, reduce rural poverty and continue to play a major role in global food security through small-scale, sustainable agricultural production.
The International Year of Family Farming provides a unique opportunity to pave way towards more inclusive and sustainable approaches to agricultural and rural development that:
• Recognize the importance of smallholder and family farmers for sustainable development.
• Place small-scale farming at the centre of national, regional and global agricultural, environmental and social policies
• Elevate the role of smallholder farmers as agents for alleviating rural poverty and ensuring food security for all.
The International Year of Family Farming presents a window of opportunity for policy makers to act responsibly to both present and future generations in a way that will reduce poverty and eradicate hunger in their respective countries. International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) believes that smallholder and family farmers can and should be at the forefront of the transformation of world agriculture. International Fund for Agriculture Development is committed to success of the International Year of Family Farming. It calls on national and global policy makers to:
• Fully support the International Year of Family Farming and its objectives, acknowledging the contribution of smallholder and family farmers to food security, rural development, employment and management of natural resources.
• Encourage policy changes that will make family farming a more secure, profitable and attractive livelihood, including for rural women and youth
• Support programmes that enable smallholder and family farmers to invest in their businesses, link to markets and overcome poverty and vulnerability.
• Promote incentives to family farmers to manage their land, water, biodiversity and other natural resources in a more sustainable way.
Objectives of the International Year of Family Farming
The International Year of Family Farming has four key objectives:
1. To support the development of policies that will foster sustainable family farming.
2. To increase knowledge and public awareness on the vital role that family farmers play in agricultural and development sectors.
3. To raise awareness of the needs and potential of family farmers, along with the constraints that they face, and ensure that they have access to technical support.
4. To create synergies for sustainability.
Other objectives include:
• To recognize the role and rights of women in family farming.
• To strengthen the legitimacy of farmer’s organizations and their capacity to effectively represent and defend the interests of family farmers.
• To create rural economic opportunities for family farmers that provides alternatives to migration to urban areas.
• To promote local and indigenous knowledge.
• To encourage research that improves food security and supports sustainable rural development, safeguards cultural heritage, protects the environment and maintains biodiversity
• To promote dialogue on policy and decision making processes.
• To identify and share lessons learned and successful pro-family farming policies, and capitalize relevant knowledge on family farming
• To enhance communication, advocacy and outreach.