Beyond the International Year of Family Farming

Governments, farmers' organizations and private sector move towards concrete actions for family farming

27 October 2014, Rome - How can governments, farmers' organizations and the private sector seize current global momentum and galvanize concrete action in support of family farmers beyond 2014? This is the central question at the two-day Global Dialogue on Family Farming (GDFF), opened at FAO headquarters today.

In his opening remarks, FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva addressed farmers and their organizations directly, stating that "Today, you are recognized as central to what FAO does, to what the world wants and to what the world needs: a sustainable and food secure future."

Also in attendance at the opening were Sándor Fazekas, Minister of Agriculture of Hungary; Carlos Casamiquela, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery of Argentina; Nicos Kouyialis, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment of Cyprus; Amadou Diallo, Minister and High Commissioner of the 3N Initiative of Niger; Ana María Baiardi, Minister for Women of Paraguay.

The Global Dialogue capitalizes on the mobilisation that has taken place as a result of United Nations General Assembly designating 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), setting off a series of regional and country initiatives to support this sector that produces 80 percent of food worldwide.

"Perhaps the greatest success of the International Year is the strong political commitment we achieved," said Graziano da Silva.

"This can be seen, for example, in the attention that family farming is receiving in the post-2015 development agenda."

The FAO Director-General stressed the need to look beyond production and acknowledge family farms as transmitters of knowledge and central allies in providing healthier diets, including through strong local food systems that link farms to schools and communities.

Talking about the paradox facing family farmers worldwide, Graziano da Silva highlighted the widespread food insecurity that still haunts many rural areas -- the same areas that serve as the breadbaskets for their communities and the world at large.

Recognizing clear advantages

As the international year of family farming draws to a close, the Global Dialogue is bringing together family farmers and their organizations, government representatives, civil society, private sector, academia and development agencies to take stock of progress thus far and identify key areas of work and international collaboration related to family farming beyond 2014.

"Acknowledging their clear advantage, small scale family farmers should be provided with an enabling policy environment to contribute to local and global food security objectives," said Hungarian Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas, who outlined Hungary's efforts to make rural lifestyles more attractive, including improving rural infrastructure, facilitating access to credit and supporting agro-tourism and organic farming.

Fazekas, who called family farming "a model that meets all requirements of sustainability" and "the backbone of Hungarian agriculture", highlighted the economic, cultural and environmental dimension of family farms, crediting them for creating unique employment opportunities in rural areas and preserving traditions and natural resources.

"In addition to economic viability, family farmers are the guardians of environmental sustainability-- they use and manage environmental resources, land and water, in a responsible way, keeping their lands fertile for future generations."

The Global Dialogue on Family Farming follows two weeks after governments agreed on a 60-point Framework of Action on Nutrition that's expected to be adopted at the upcoming Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) held November 19-21 in Rome.

Family farms have been acknowledged as a key link in the effort to building nutritious food systems that allow all people to lead health productive lives, as well as a cornerstone in the global fight against poverty.

The Global Dialogue on Family Farming can be followed via FAO webcast and on twitter under the hashtag #iyff14 .

The closing of the International Year of Family Farming will take place on 27 November in The Philippines.

Photo: ©FAO/Daniel Hayduk
Tanzania: A farmer and her son in the family rice plot.