By combining products from forests and fields, family farmers avoid the cost of purchasing essential building materials, mats, flooring materials, baskets, tools and farming implements. The combination of forest and farms also allows family farmers to collect, process and market a wider variety of products, from timber to an astonishing array of non-wood forest products such as medicinal and ornamental plants, forest fruits, mushrooms, honey, edible insects, fish, bush meat and many other crops and horticultural farm products.
Considering that smallholders produce 70 percent of the world’s food, family foresters and family farmers may be the largest private sector actors – at least in the rural portion of the world’s population. Yet forest communities, small forest owners and family farmers face the threat of land conversion in the face of large-scale industrial projects, whether for timber, bio fuels, crops or agricultural land leases. They also often face challenges in gaining access to markets, fair prices for products and compensation for the ecosystem services they may be responsible for maintaining.
As families join forest and farm producer organizations they are able to gain many more benefits. Joining together in traditional, informal and formal organizations helps forest and farm producers to: share knowledge and experience; engage in policy advocacy; secure tenure and access rights to forest, land and natural resources; improve sustainable forest and farm management; expand markets; build enterprises; and increase income and well-being.
Assisting producers from forest communities, family forests and farms to gain access to financial and other business development services can help them to attain economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Family farming lex