SE132 What data supports family farming? How data and information systems can empower family farmers, advance goals of the UNDFF and guide better policy


  • FAO
  • International Land Coalition (ILC)
  • IFAD
  • France
  • AgriCord
  • Centre de cooperation internationale en recherche agronomique pour le developpement (CIRAD)
  • AgriCord

The global faming population is currently facing a number of interrelated challenges: a need to adopt to the pressures of climate change, to transition to more agro-ecological farming to increase resilience, improve food security, nutrition and income. These challenges imply investment at the farm level, which requires tailored funding and the appropriate policy framework.

Building an appropriate policy framework requires reliable data and information systems that reflect the reality of family farmers, both on and beyond the farm. Yet currently, there is a lack of comprehensive data that reflects the complex geographies, contexts and activities ascribed to family or smallholder farming. Furthermore, the data that exists is often fragmented and inaccessible by family farming organizations.

Nevertheless, the need for data on important aspects of family farming is undeniable: What is the asset structure of family farms? What is their social make-up? How much are they producing? Do they have access to markets? And what kind of supports are provided to them by the State? In the context of Agenda 2030, data is a mandatory reporting requirement, while better information systems on family farming will help track progress towards the United Nations Decade on Family Farming (UNDFF), policy recommendations made by CFS and the targets outlined within Goal 2 of the SDGs.

A number of tools and initiatives have developed to respond to the need for more data on family farming, from the adequacy of policy frameworks, their implementation on the ground and the outcomes for family farmers. The international Observatory of World Agriculture (WAW) has developed a harmonized methodological framework to organize family farming data that serves to empower farmers' organizations. LANDex, a member-driven initiative of the ILC, provides globally comparable indicators that evaluate the policy framework in support of family farmers, in addition to budget supports, productivity and land distribution.

Panelists representing WAW and LANDex will introduce these initiatives and discuss their potential to generate data that could inform public debate among policymakers, civil society and multistakeholders, more generally. Civil society organizations will reflect on how this data can be used by family farming organizations.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Moderation : Constanza di Nucci (IFAD)
  • Introduction: Professor Harriet Friedmann (University of Toronto)


  • Musa SOW - ROPPA
  • Jose Romeo Ebron - AFA
  • Pierre-Marie Bosc - WAW
  • Ward Anseeuw - LANDex (ILC)
  • Conclusion : Delphine Borione - Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to FAO, WFP and IFAD

Main themes/issues discussed

Professor Friedmann recalled key recommendations from the IAASTD report (2008) regarding the leading role of family farmers for food security, the needed shift to agro-ecology and labour as key criteria to define farming types. She also pointed to the need for secured land tenure for family farmers. The panellists highlighted the importance of the design, implementation, ownership and availability to farmers’ organizations of information systems characterizing family farms. Farmers face interrelated challenges, that require investments at farm level. Indeed, evidence-based policymaking allows tailored investment corresponding to the diversity and needs of family farmers. To do so requires good quality and accessible data reflecting farmers’ input.

During the event, ROPPA and AFA stressed the fact that these data are not available to farmers’ platforms, limiting their capacity to plan, orient and support investments and policies to help family farmers. ROPPA also stressed the importance of data on off-farm and migration income. WAW shared its harmonized methodological framework that supports government and farmers’ organizations during the UN Decade of Family Farming. LANDex introduced its internationally comparable set of indicators on land tenure, focusing on data to empower family farms, local communities and organizations. Ambassador Borione insisted on the importance of reliable data sets to design sound policies; she also pointed to important issues such as the differentiated roles of the multiple stakeholders, the link with UN Decade of Family Farming and the importance of digital tools linking these issues to the upcoming program of the CFS regarding data for 2030.

Summary of key points

  • identification of indicators relevant for family farming analysis,
  • techniques of data collection,
  • harmonization and aggregation of datasets,
  • design of an integrated information system of family farming accessible to all the relevant stakeholders,
  • empowerment of family farmers organization through ownership on data and information on farm types as well on secured land tenure options

Key take away messages

From the interventions of the panellists and their dialogue with the audience, three main messages have emerged:

A need for family farming data to guide effective evidence-based investment strategies and policy-making.

A need for data “democratization” and ownership by farmers organizations: data sets should be designed by and be accessible to all the relevant stakeholders (governments, farmers associations, farmers), using inclusive platforms, while respecting the code of conduct to protect privacy and statistical secrecy.

Family farmers organizations and farmers should be put at the centre of every initiative:  their wellbeing and the improvement of their living conditions should always be the first goal

Starting from the side event, the next step should focus on how to strengthen the linkages among all the existing initiatives targeted at family farming in order to support family farmers’ national committees and national platforms during the UN Decade of Family Farming. This support should also be connected and in synergy with the official national statistical bodies.  

CFS 46 Side Event: SE132 What data supports family farming? How data and information systems can empower family farmers, advance goals of the UNDFF and guide better policy


The contents of this page is provided by the Side Event organizers and does not reflect the opinion of CFS