Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2021

World Food Day

What can farmers do ?

Men and women in agriculture, fisheries and forestry are our primary sources for nutritious foods. As guardians of the planet’s natural resources, their decisions lie at the roots of transforming agri-food systems. Innovative technologies and training, finance, incentives and social protection can help farmers to provide sustainable healthy diets locally and globally. Here are some actions farmers can consider with the right support.

Diversity makes agri-food systems and peoples’ livelihoods more resilient and adaptable to crises, such as climate change. Farmers can build resilience by learning about nutrition, biodiversity and different farming techniques. Engage in dialogue and participate, if possible, in agricultural extension services or farmer field schools. Keep an eye out for opportunities and government incentives that support a diverse production of nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, possibly offering more harvests and security.

Try to be environment-friendly and use natural resources more efficiently and adopt sustainable agricultural practices that respect biodiversity. These practices can provide better protection against climate change. Some examples are: crop rotation, increased crop diversity, use of cover crops, no-till and reduced-till systems, integrated pest management, integrated crop-livestock-forestry systems, sustainable agroforestry practices, and precision farming. Going sustainable is not always easy at first. Look out for government incentives that can help lead the way.

Visit the FAO Digital Service Portfolio for useful data, information, maps and statistics. This cloud-based platform has over 80 000 registered farmers who receive information and services. The E-Agriculture Community of Practice offers capacity development and collects best practices in digital agriculture.

Healthy food comes from healthy soil. Our soils generate most of the food we eat. This means that soil is one of the main building blocks of food security. Make soil health a priority by consulting the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management. Improve water management to maintain biodiversity and nutrient balance, reduce erosion and promote carbon storage and sequestration. Restore degraded pastures by planting native forage or grass, or introduce trees to avoid soil erosion.

Farmers can increase their income and reduce consumer prices by tackling post-harvest losses. Examples include, harvesting at the right time, improving storage, learning about best practices and appropriate technologies. Forecasts and analytics – combined with technologies to build climate resilience and pest resistance – go a long way. They help farmers to produce exactly what is needed. Not only does this reduce food loss, it also avoids wasting the water and energy used to produce surplus food.

Climate change threatens the most vulnerable. Without the right tools to adapt to global warming, food insecure people are at risk of hunger. Farmers can strengthen agri-food systems at their roots by supporting Climate-Smart Agriculture. This promotes the sustainable use of natural resources such as soil and water. By considering seed varieties that are more resistant to drought and disease, or livestock that are suited to warmer temperatures, farmers can also build resilience. Fisherfolk can create stormproof ponds and cages for fish, and foresters can plant trees that are heat and drought tolerant.