The most widely recognized function of soil is its support for food production. It is the foundation for agriculture and the medium in which nearly all food-producing plants grow. In fact, it is estimated that 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils. Healthy soils supply the essential nutrients, water, oxygen and root support that our food-producing plants need to grow and flourish. Soils also serve as a buffer to protect delicate plant roots from drastic fluctuations in temperature.
Ensuring food safety is a public health priority, and an essential step to achieving food security. Effective food safety and quality management systems are key not only to safeguarding the health and well-being of people but also to fostering economic development and improving livelihoods by promoting access to domestic, regional and international markets
More than 500 million family farms manage the majority of the world's agricultural land and produce most of the world's food. We need family farms to ensure global food security, to care for and protect the natural environment and to end poverty, undernourishment and malnutrition. Goals can be thoroughly achieved if public policies support family farms to become more productive and sustainable; in other words policies must support family farms to innovate within a system that recognizes their diversity and the complexity of the challenges faced.
The State of Food and Agriculture 2014: Innovation in family farming analyses family farms and the role of innovation in ensuring global food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. It argues that family farms must be supported to innovate in ways that promote sustainable intensification of production and improvements in rural livelihoods.