Thursday, October 16, 2014

Showing Support for Family Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture

Family farmers are extremely valuable yet they are under siege and need our support. World Food Day 2014 shines a spotlight on the world's 500 million family farmers. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that based on data from 93 countries, family farmers account for an average of 80 percent of all holdings, and are the main producers of food that is consumed locally. Family farmers are also sustainable farmers. Sadly family farmers are disappearing at an alarming rate. Family farms that used to be an important source of rural jobs.

As explained in a foodtank article

"The world cannot do without the family farmer," says Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator for FAO. "It’s because of the family farmer that we eat a variety of healthy foods every day. And yet, family farmers still make up the majority of poor and hungry people in the world. We must do more to incentivize, celebrate and exponentially improve the lives of family farmers to ensure all people have access to fresh, healthy food."

While family farms are critical to food security and sustainable agriculture, they are having an increasingly hard time making ends meet. More need to be done to support them with tools and resources that address the cost of land, labor costs, government regulations and policies, climate change and the inherent risk of farming, as well as the disproportionate amount of work required given the financial returns.

As explained by Nabeeha M. Kazi, President & CEO of Humanitas Global and Chair of the Community for Zero Hunger, we must work to preserve family farmers.

"We do not want the universe of family farmers to shrink, and we must have policies, programs and resources to enable family farmers to stay on the farm if they desire to do so and perform at their potential," says Kazi.

We must help farmers to develop tools for designing sustainable agricultural systems based on the diversity and stability of local ecosystems. We all have a vested interest in supporting the family farmer. We simply cannot afford to lose family farmers if we are to address issues of food security and engage sustainable agricultural practices.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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