New agreements with academic and research institutions allow FAO to provide greater support to family farmers

04/01/2020 - 

Rome - Over the past months, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations continued to support the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF), signing three new letters of agreement (LoA) with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Development in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU). These new agreements will support knowledge exchange and capacity development activities, including two studies on family farming. 

More than 90 percent of the world’s 600 million farms are run by an individual or a family and rely primarily on family labor. Family farmers not only produce the majority of the world’s food in value terms, but also contribute to safeguarding of the world’s agro-biodiversity and preserve the knowledge related to traditional agricultural systems. Despite these contributions, family farmers face many obstacles in moving towards more productive and sustainable food systems. 

In an effort to support family farmers in realizing their full potential, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which proclaimed 2019-2028 the United Nations Decade of Family Farming. This initiative invites governments and relevant stakeholders, including academia, to actively support the implementation of the Decade and focus on family farming as a critical approach to improve livelihoods and eradicate hunger in rural areas, while fostering the use of sustainable agriculture techniques and ensuring food security.  

Promoting knowledge exchange and capacity development on family farming

The Global Action Plan of the UNDFF provides detailed guidance for the international community on actions that can be taken to support family farmers. Designed around seven mutually reinforcing pillars of work, the Global Action Plan recommends a series of interconnected actions from the local to the global level which can be adapted to regional, national, or local socio-cultural and socio-economic conditions. FAO’s Capacity Development and Academia Team worked with ICBA, RUFORUM and Sultan Qaboos University to develop LoAs which address five out of seven pillars of the UNDFF.

The LoA with ICBA was designed to provide knowledge exchange and capacity development training for women and family farmers on climate-resilient approaches to uptake farming models and practices, and sustainably increase agricultural productivity. In particular, the LoA supports the UNDFF and its Global Action Plan especially through activities focusing on Pillar 3 (Promote gender equity in family farming and the leadership of role of rural women) and Pillar 6 (Promote sustainability of family farming for climate-resilient food systems).”

The LoA with RUFORUM aims to facilitate a regional workshop on agricultural innovation for family farmers to enable knowledge transfer to young family farmers and graduate students in agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa. Furthermore, the LoA also aims to develop a study on the subject of young family farmers’ innovations and challenges to access innovations in Eastern and Southern Africa and a report as a follow up of the workshop. Such activities are designed to target Pillar 2 (Support youth and ensure the generational sustainability of family farming) of the UNDFF Global Action Plan.

Finally, the LoA with Sultan Qaboos University was conceived to contribute to institutional capacity development through the publication of a study, including recommendations, on small scale and family farmers’ collective actions in the Sultanate of Oman. The publication will focus on the management of natural resources and achievement of food security, targeting Pillar 1 (Develop an enabling environment to strengthen family farming) and Pillar 4 (Strengthen family farmers’ organizations and their capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers’ concerns and provide inclusive services in rural areas) of the Action Plan for the Decade of Family Farming