Webinar highlights opportunities of UN Decade of Family Farming


Empowering family famers and stimulating long-term commitments in their favour was the aim of a webinar organized by Slow Food and the World Rural Forum. The event highlighted the challenges and opportunities faced by family farmers as well as family farmers’ importance and contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Family farming is the predominant form of food and agricultural production in both developed and developing countries, producing around 80 percent of the world’s food in terms of value. It serves multiple economic, environmental, social and cultural functions, and it is estimated that 90 percent of farms are family farms (around 500 million).

Mountain farming, for example, takes many forms and is largely family farming. Mountain farming activities have traditionally fed and supported individual households and tend to be driven by familial, cultural and ecological values – such as using traditional crop and livestock varieties, utilizing low-emission technologies and producing small quantities – rather than solely profit maximization.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2019-2028 as the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF), recognizing that when family farmers are supported with contextualized and affirmative policies and programmes, they have the unique capacity to redress food systems and social inequalities, contributing toward the achievement of the SDGs.

Organized within the framework of the International Land Coalition (ILC) Commitment Based Initiative on Family Farming, the webinar saw participation by a diversity of stakeholders from the World Rural Forum, Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum, Slow Food Macedonia, ILC, Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the National Committee of Family Farming of Paraguay.

Presenting a new report by the ILC titled Uneven Ground, Senior Technical Specialist Ward Anseeuw underlined how land inequality is on the increase. “Land inequality has been underestimated, and land is - surprisingly – more unequal than we think,” he said. “We need to support collective land rights and address horizontal inequalities.”

Guillerme Brady, Head of Family Farming, Engagement and Parliamentarian Alliances Unit at FAO, highlighted opportunities linked to the Declaration of the UNDFF, adding, "The UNDFF is a unique opportunity to unleash the enormous potential of family farmers and their contributions to address the challenges of the SDGs. One of the main positive features of the Decade is how it mobilises a huge number of actors.”

Valeria Barchiesi of the MPS presented the Mountain Partnership Products Initiative and discussed opportunities and challenges faced by small-scale farmers in the world’s mountain areas. "Mountain farmers should be incorporated in family farming strategies,” said Barchiesi. “We should identify the right markets for specific products, recognizing the value of family farming in protecting fragile ecosystems such as mountains.”

Moving forward, the MPS and World Rural Forum will strengthen their collaboration and explore synergies between their activities.

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Photo by Giacomo Berardi on Unsplash

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