By Savanna Henderson, Humanitas Global
A legacy of the 2014 Year of Family Farming, earlier this month FAO introduced the “Family Farming Knowledge Platform,” a single source of digital information focused on family farming.
With over 500 million family farms in the world, it is necessary to have a globally accessible source of information shared and collaborated on by stakeholders involved in and supporting family farms. The Family Farming Knowledge Platform is a collection of family farm related national laws and regulations, public policies, best practices, data and statistics, ongoing research, articles, publications and more. FAO members and collaborators will also have a dedicated portal, “From the Field” for uploading current information and findings. A recent update includes a project located in Romania focused on orienting and marketing small dairy farm’s product towards the larger market. Globally, governments, family farmers’ networks, UN agencies, NGOs and research organizations will be able to collaborate and integrate relevant knowledge, policy and program information to the Family Farming Platform.
The Platform will serve to provide information and facilitate in policy, regulation and law making to support family farmers. Furthermore, it will inform and provide assistance to stakeholders in the field and at the grassroots level. Creation and utilization of a single source of worldwide knowledge related to family farming allows stakeholders to comb through all existing programs, policies, lessons learned and start dialogues amongst each other to improve support for family farms.
“Family farmers feed our communities and take care of our earth - they are crucial allies in the fight against hunger and rural poverty,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.
Family farming includes any and all family-based agricultural activities ranging from forestry, fisheries, to aquaculture. Family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in both developed and developing countries, contributing to food security and poverty eradication worldwide. While family farms range in size, 84% of all farms are less than 2 hectares, falling under the smallholder farm category. It is crucial that these smallholder farms receive the necessary support to increase productivity and income as laid out in the initiatives of the challenge of Zero Hunger. As the dominant form of agriculture globally, family farms produce more than 80% of the world’s food. Additionally, family farms create jobs and provide income for men and women both locally and regionally through agricultural supply chains. Cultivation of a variety of foods and use of diverse agricultural systems further contributes to biodiversity conservation and increased food security. Supporting family farms means supporting access to enough nutritious food year round, sustainable food systems, healthy children without stunting and malnourishment and no loss or waste of food.
The Family Farming Platform provides stakeholders the means to learn, advocate for and react to the needs of family farmers such as improved rights of access to natural resources, stronger agriculture and food markets to support sustainable agricultural practices and the well-being of the farmers. Through the Platform, stakeholders can work towards creating policies and programs that strengthen family farmers role in local, national and global economies, contribute to food security, and conservation of biodiversity.
Farmers have always shared information with one another, what seeds produced the best produce, what methods of agriculture worked best, changes in the rainfall, and more. Now, the FAO has created a platform for farmers and all those supporting and advocating for family farmers to share related policies, laws, practices, success stories and research.