From our friends at Foodtank.org (the food think tank) this news: The United Nations recently declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). This the first United Nations year that is the result of a campaign by civil society–the World Rural Forum (WRF) campaigned heavily for the year and it was backed by more than 360 civil and farmers’ organizations in five continents.
According to the FAO: The International Year of Family Farming honors over 400 million family farms in both developed and developing countries, defined as farms that rely primarily on family members for labour and management. Such farms produce the food that feeds billions of people. In many developing countries family farms make up on average up to 80 percent of all farm holdings.
But small and medium-size family farms are suffering across the world. One bad harvest, a rejected bank loan, or too much or too little rain can drive farms out of business.
“The most effective way to combat hunger and malnutrition is to produce food near the consumers, precisely what family farming does, not the large itinerant investors,” explains Jose Antonio Osaba (WRF), Coordinator of the IYFF-2014 Civil Society Programme.
Food Tank acknowledges the crucial importance of family farming and its potential to help create a more sustainable and just food system.
Forthcoming reports by FAO and Food Tank suggest that through local knowledge and sustainable, innovative farming methods, family farmers can improve yields and create a more nutrient-dense and diverse food system.
Family farmers are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to millions and boosting local markets.
Over the next year, let’s remember that farmers aren’t just food producers–they’re business women and men, they’re teachers in their communities, they’re innovators and inventors, and they’re stewards of the land who deserve to recognized for the ecosystem services they provide that benefit us all.