Family Farming Knowledge Platform

Family Farming in Near East and North Africa

In the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region more than 80% of agricultural production is provided by the small-scale agriculture. 40% of the region’s population lives and works in rural areas and nearly 85% of agricultural land holdings are farmed by families. In fact, despite being large in number, family farms control only 25% of arable land, while 75% is in the hands of corporate-type agriculture. The average size of a family farm in the region is less than two hectares and is steadily decreasing as a result of population growth and the division of farms on inheritance. In addition, insecure land tenure, conflicts, water scarcity and the impacts of climate change are some of the contextual elements that make life hard for family farmers. Sustainable small-scale agriculture has the potential to boost local economies, and lift communities out of poverty. Still, despite its huge potential and although it is the major source of income in many NENA rural areas, family farming remains neglected in the major policies in the region related to agriculture or food security, and huge inequalities persist between rural and urban areas and between smallholders and large agricultural producers.

Read more on Family Farming in Near East and North Africa

Read more on Family Farming in Near East and North Africa

Between 25% and 40% of the labour on family farms is provided by women and their role is increasingly important, because rising numbers of male family members are migrating to oil-rich countries and to cities in order to earn a better living and send remittances to their families back on the farm. Women, however, suffer even more than men from lack of access to land, credit and technology and they generally represent less than five percent of landholders in the region.

Youth unemployment is another major challenge facing the region today, with rates of around 25%. Youth are increasingly losing interest in agriculture and are looking for jobs in urban area. This is putting pressure on urban infrastructure and is depriving rural areas and family farms of important labour resources that are generally more educated and dynamic. 

Family farmers are a vital element to reduce poverty and improve food security in the region, thus contributing to feed the growing urban households. Improving productivity and social protection has been recognized as a powerful pathway to advance family farming in the region. In such a context, FAO’s Small Scale Family Farming Regional Initiative aims at achieve higher levels of productivity and income generation for family farmers, by playing a critical role in intensifying smallholders’ production in a sustainable manner. This initiative contributes to the adoption of policies and institutions that reduce rural poverty and contribute to inclusive economic growth and food security. It improves the environment and conditions of family farming in the region and has direct impact on smallholders’ organizations, productivity and overall working conditions. Furthermore, it supports empowering youth and women and facilitating their access to decent employment.

FAO is working closely with thousands of small farmers and producers in the region. This Initiative puts farmers and smallholders back at the centre of fight against hunger and poverty, strengthening their managerial and negotiation skills to market their products and fostering the role of women and youth in the agricultural sector.


Contingency planning process for catalysing investments and actions to enhance resilience against sand and dust storms in agriculture in the Islamic Republic of Iran

This report outlines the conceptual framework for sand and dust storms (SDS) hazard risk and vulnerability assessment and mapping in agriculture and provides the elements as part of SDS contingency planning process in agriculture in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Its main purpose is to provide an applicable procedure for using...
Iran (Islamic Republic of)


Agricultural Planning Economic and Rural Development Research Institute(APERDRI)

Research center
The Agricultural Planning and Economics Research Institute, with about half a century of experience and study, research and planning with a unique position in the Ministry of Agricultural Jihad, produces ideas, knowledge and programs that contribute to the sustainable development of rural agriculture and natural resources.
Iran (Islamic Republic of)

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