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FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

The Family Farming Newsletter is a quaterly publication produced by FAO Regional Office, that seeks to disseminate information about family farming in Latin America and the Caribbean through interviews, and document good practices and other information regarding the status of family farming in the region.

Family Farming Newsletter for Latin America and the Caribbean. January - March 2014

Editorial

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva

The start of this year leads us to consider what was achieved in 2013 and what should be done in 2014

The celebration of the International Year of Quinoa (IYQ) in 2013 generated more research, investment, programs and projects, all with the aim of creating the conditions for the golden grain of the Andes to be produced in countries of the five continents and integrated into the diet of the most vulnerable population. Quinoa is not only a highly nutritious food, but its cultivation can also help to fight poverty around the world. However, while we owe our appreciation to the Andean peoples for showing humanity how to preserve, prepare and share food of high nutritional value, there is still much to do to make quinoa available to those who suffer from hunger worldwide.

Just as Andean farmers have known how to preserve and improve quinoa for thousands of years, family farmers around the world have passed on their knowledge and skills from generation to generation, preserving and improving many of the practices and technologies that ensure agricultural sustainability. And so, as we celebrate the International Year of Family Farming 2014, there is much to learn about sustainable practices from the families of small and medium-sized producers, including indigenous peoples, traditional communities, fishermen, shepherds and many others, who in Latin America represent 81% of agricultural holdings.

Several countries have declared Family Farming to be a matter of national interest, and there are various programs at the regional level. However, other countries should also promote inclusive public policies aimed at family farmers. The actions to be taken during this year should be closely linked to these objectives: 1) support the development of agricultural, environmental and social policies conducive to sustainable family farming; (2) increase knowledge, communication and public awareness; (3) achieve a better understanding of the needs of family farming, including its potential and limitations, and ensure technical support; and (4) create synergies for sustainability.

Although the UN has designated FAO as coordinator of the IYFF 2014 activities, initiatives in line with global objectives should be presented within each country. If the IYQ 2013 was about preserving and promoting the knowledge and practices of the Andean peoples regarding the cultivation of quinoa with the purpose of improving the diet of millions of people, the IYFF 2014 should highlight the role of family farmers around the world and their potential to contribute to the eradication of hunger, poverty reduction and the conservation of natural resources, which are essential elements of a sustainable future.

As usual, we begin the year with a lot of work to do.

José Graziano da Silva
Director-General
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations