Family Farming Knowledge Platform


According to FAO, the Family Farming (FF) "is a form of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture and grazing, which is owned and family-operated and, above all, dependent on family labor, both women and men"(FAO, 2014). In Ecuador, Wong (2007) used Farming Units (UPAs, the Spanish acronym) and not hired labor as a criterion to characterize family farming in the country (FAO-EC, 2014). The FF is also determined by the land's surface, which makes the polarization of the agrarian structure evident. In Ecuador, 75% of agricultural production units are small farmers (6-10 acres), which in turn hold around 17% of agricultural land area (Carrion & Herrera, 2012).



Socio-economic importance

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries (MAGAP), the FF provides about 60% of the basic food basket, generating between 80% and 90% of foreign exchange earnings from coffee and cacao. This represents approximately 80% of direct agricultural jobs and contributes between 3% and 4% of GNP (Carrion & Herrera, 2012). From 2006, the production of FF has provided about $ 200 million to the national economy (Carrion & Herrera, 2012).

Family farming supports approximately 49% rice, potatoes (64%), fresh milk (42%), pigs (71%), sheep (82%) and others (MAGAP, 2014).
The robust economic contributions of the FF provides an opportunity for more equitable national development, improving the living conditions of small farmers and contributing to food security and nutrition. However, a lack of productive resources and adequate public policies limit such opportunities (Carrion & Herrera, 2012).

Regulatory framework and initiatives to strengthen family farming

Within the regulatory framework, the mentions in the central policies are varied. In the Constitution, although not named directly as “family farming,”  Article Nº13 recognizes the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food, preferably produced locally. In addition, Article Nº 281 and Nº288 refer to issues of food sovereignty and inclusion of smallholders in the food supply programs. Along with the Constitution, the National Plan for Good Living (2013-2017), the Basic Law of Food Sovereignty (LORSA), the Organic Code of Territorial Organization and Decentralization (COOTAD) and the Plurinational and Intercultural Conference on Food Sovereignty (COPISA) also include the FF and promote participatory processes for strengthening and development of proposals related to laws on various issues related to food sovereignty (FAO-EC, 2014).

It should be noted that within the organizational structure of MAGAP, the creation of the Vice Ministry of Rural Development with the responsibility of implementing policies and monitoring the activities related to rural development focused on Family Farming (FAO-EC, 2014).

FAO is currently supporting the project "Strengthening Inclusion Processes in Family Farming in the procurement of food," which seeks to contribute to the process of linking family farming and public procurement by the State. During the development of this project, different "inclusive business rounds" has been performed that allowed small producers to offer their products and prices directly to consumers (FAO, 2015). In addition, other actions aimed at improving the quality of life of family farmers, boosting the family economy and combating poverty were also developed.


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Family farming lex

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