UN food agency launches digital platform on family farming

The move will allow governments to build stronger policies in favour of family farmers across the world

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Across the world, family farms help to preserve bio-diversity and ensure food security (Credit: US Department of Agriculture’s photostream/Flickr)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched a digital platform where people can access valuable information, data and legislation on the contribution of family farmers worldwide. This is an important move on the part of the United Nations’ (UN) food agency, as family farmers contribute immensely to food security and global poverty eradication.

“Globally, more than 90 per cent of farms are (either) operated by an individual or a family, (producing) about 80 per cent of the world’s food (and) occupying around 70-80 per cent of farm land. The vast numbers of family farms have a huge potential to eradicate hunger and preserve natural resources,” Policy Specialist with FAO India, Bhaskar Goswami, told Down To Earth.

The underlying reason for the UN to launch the International Year of Family Farming (IYFP) last year was to stress its importance in both developed as well as developing nations, he said.

Importance of the platform

By gathering vital information on family farming trends, the Family Farming Knowledge Platform will allow governments to build stronger policies in favour of family farmers. It will also help in holding policy dialogues with farmers’ organisations.

“It was discussed and endorsed by the International Steering Committee of IYFF and the main international networks of family farmers. They all expressed the need for sharing knowledge on family farming and gather together a huge amount of information which is already available on the web, but is scattered. The platform will provide one single access point for all this information and provide knowledge-based assistance for policy discussion and policy making for family farms,” Francesco Pierri, family farming officer of FAO, told Down To Earth in an email interview from Rome.

The main audience of the platform will be policy makers, family farmers and their organisations, technical experts, practitioners, research centres, universities and NGOs.

“FAO believes the platform will be particularly useful for assisting competent public authorities by facilitating informed decision-making on family farming policy processes from all around the world,” Pierri said.

Family farms

Family farmers depend predominantly on their own household labour. According to Goswami, in India, traditionally farming has been family based and majority of the farmers are smallholders. These types of farms maintain bio-diversity. They also hold the key to ending rural poverty cycles.

“Family farming is practised to meet diverse household needs rather than solely for selling (the produce) in the markets. The orientation towards market opportunities might be there, but it is not the exclusive driver. In order to meet multiple needs, on-farm bio-diversity is essential and farming ought to be practised using agro-ecological approaches,” Goswami added.

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