Family Farming Knowledge Platform

Family Farming in Asia and the Pacific

Family farming in the Asia and the Pacific region is very diverse, spanning from full-time family members’ farming with the support of wage labour, as in China, to small-scale and subsistence farmers as in Pakistan and the Pacific Islands. Due to this richness and diversity, family farming in the region it can be adequately characterized by the IYFF working definition as ''a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family capital and labour, including both women’s and men’s. The family and the farm are linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, social and cultural functions.''

Read more on Family Farming in Asia and the Pacific

Read more on Family Farming in Asia and the Pacific

It is often said that the Asia-Pacific region is the global home of small-scale family farmers. The area holds 60 percent of the world’s population and 70 percent of its family farmers. Small-scale food producers, farmers, forest producers, fishers and herders produce 80 percent of the region’s food. Family farmers in the region contribute to local market development, community level cooperation and resilience, and ultimately to countries’ global domestic products. Family farmers also help preserve and enhance local traditions, farming practices, heritage farming and food systems, as well as community ecosystems and rural landscapes. Aquaculture is also important in the region – 80 to 90 percent of aquaculture farms in Asia are family-based.

In this highly diverse region, family farmers are threatened by climate change and natural hazards: floods, drought landslides, cyclones and tsunamis regularly threaten rural lives and livelihoods. Gradual changes in mean temperatures and rainfall are already affecting agriculture, forests, marine resources, biological diversity and water availability in the region.

Family farmers in the region face other enormous challenges due to rapid globalization of the food sector and threats from large scale commercial farming and extractive industries. Within this context, very often trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation have a very detrimental impact on family farmers. These processes have reduced the capacities of countries and peoples to ensure self-sufficient food production and have worsened hunger, poverty, malnutrition, and contributed to the displacement, landlessness, loss of livelihood and income, and curtailment of rights of small food producers and consumers. Many small farmers are affected by reduced land and livelihood access due to large-scale land acquisitions for agriculture, infrastructure, hydropower and mining projects, as well as conservation projects while tenure rights of indigenous peoples and smallholder family farmers, that are critical to their livelihood, should be better secured. In addition, agricultural activities face low productivity and high risks due to lack of chance for capacity building, low wages, job insecurity and poor and hazardous working conditions, including exposure to dangerous agrochemicals. Furthermore, agricultural workers are not protected by any social protection schemes such as universal healthcare, pension programme, un-employment schemes.

Fishers and fish workers, including women, are being marginalized due to the expanding commercial fisheries. They need strong support to access to fishery resources and with reference to processing and marketing. Despite being guardians of forests and managers of non-timber forest resources, the livelihoods of forest producers and communities have increasingly become vulnerable to the impacts of rampant forest degradation in the region. Their contributions are often unrecognized and their participation in the decision-making centers, markets and investment programmes is limited.

The region also faces changes in rural population structures: the rural population is ageing and young farmers and men, lacking job and livelihood options for themselves in the countryside, are forced to migrate to cities, leaving behind an increasing number of elderly and women. Women play a major role in most family farming, although this is poorly recognized. They contribute up to 85 percent of the work in family farms but receive barely 20 percent of the family’s farming income in addition to shouldering household and care responsibilities Rural women, particularly, remain invisible, undervalued and unrecognized. They have unequal access and control over resources, despite their roles as seed savers, land tillers, community leaders and family managers.

In general terms, there is a need to assess carefully the situation of family farmers at the regional and national levels and to promote policies to support their well-being, by ensuring equitable access to resources, especially for women and vulnerable groups, the stability of food prices and social protection measures.

Resources

Bringing cultures together on the farms and mountains of Viet Nam

Ma Thi Ninh thought farming would be relatively easy. The Yen Duong area of Viet Nam where she lives has excellent, arable land and offers many sought-after products, including organic sticky rice, seasonal vegetables and bamboo used for traditional handicraft products. But once she started to farm and trade in...
Viet Nam
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Welthungerhilfe

International Organization
Welthungerhilfe is one of Germany's largest private aid agencies. It offers integrated aid from rapid disaster aid to reconstruction and long-term development cooperation projects in conjunction with local partner organisations based on the principle of help towards self help. The India programme works in five main areas that contribute to...
India
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