Supporting family farmers is key for providing healthier diets, preserving the environment and creating rural prosperity

The UN Decade of Family Farming will assist achievement of the SDGs, says FAO Director-General

27 September 2018, New York - Over the next 10 years the United Nations Decade of Family Farming will help focus efforts around the world to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, lift rural people - many of whom are women - out of poverty, and safeguard natural resources, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, said today.

Speaking at an event on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly, Graziano da Silva noted how the full potential of family farming for the achievement of the 2030 Development Agenda has yet to be unlocked, and that to do so, requires the introduction and implementation of targeted public policies.

Through the Decade of Family Farming initiative, FAO aims to provide technical support for governments to preserve family farmers and to share good practices through South South and Triangular Cooperation the FAO Director-General said, adding: "We want to keep family farming at the top at the international agenda".

He made the remarks at a High-Level Ministerial Breakfast organized by the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the UN, FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Producing over 80 percent of the world's food, family farmers, including indigenous peoples, fisher folk, mountain farmers, pastoralists and many other groups, are key actors in ensuring food security due to their potential tosustainably meet the increase in food production generated by growing global demand.

Yet hunger and poverty are still largely rural phenomena with 75 percent of the world's extreme poor living in rural areas. Rural communities are also the most vulnerable to shock and disasters, caused by conflicts, and climate related events.

"Family farmers are those who can better preserve rural areas and promote local products", said Graziano da Silva.

The FAO Director-General pointed to how the lack of access to resources, technologies and financial services is hampering the production of the food people need in order to live healthier lives.

Yet, he noted, millions of family farmers around the world still hold the traditional knowledge and technical know-how and the cultural heritage to transform our food systems so that they can produce the food we need while maintaining biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

In order to do so, policy interventions should be designed in accordance with the multi-dimensional nature of family farming since no ‘one-fits-all' recipe exists. Governments and the public sector hold the main responsibility to ensure policy coordination and to interconnect policy support for family farmers with the broader national strategies of food security and nutrition, economic inclusion, poverty reduction, resilience to climate change or to protect the environment.

The FAO Director-General cited the results achieved in his home country, Brazil, where a serious political commitment was made to reduce poverty and inequalities through economic inclusion. Family farming was a key element in this national effort and through family farmers, public policies were focused on various interconnected areas.

These included increasing their productive capacity and income (credit, insurance, rural extension; supplying healthy food to social programmes; ensuring nutritious food to children at schools; reducing deforestation; providing social protection  and resilience strategies to specific semiarid regions that were suffering prolonged drought.

FAO's work

Graziano da Silva noted that FAO, in collaboration with IFAD, is co-hosting the secretariat of the Decade of Family Farming, which will be formally launched in 2019. Both UN agencies together with their partners are ready to provide continuous technical support to member countries on policy development for the support of family farming. International agreed frameworks, tools, norms, standards and data are already available and FAO is ready to strengthen its support at all levels.

Photo: ©FAO/Ishara Kodikara / FAO
A woman farmer in Sri Lanka.