GLOBAL FORUM AND EXPO ON FAMILY FARMING
(Budapest, 4-6 March 2014)
Initiated by the Philippines and World Rural Forum, the UN GA declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. Against this background, the FAO and the Hungarian Ministry of Rural Development organised a Global Forum to identify the various political, policy, business and social elements that play a role in the complex environment in which family farms operate. The overall objective was to find ways in which economies and communities could benefit from the values that family farms represent in food production, management of natural resources, biodiversity, human relations and the preservation of cultural heritage.
The main findings of the two day event, which emerged from the ministerial roundtable and the three parallel panel discussions, are the following:
Even if family farms differ to a large extent from region to region, they have values that all nations share and challenges that all nations need to tackle.
Most smallholder farms are family-based and make a significant contribution to global food and nutrition security. However, family farms and the countries in which they operate are diverse in many ways and the solutions offered for them should be tailored for this diversity.
Farmers need a high enough income to maintain their rural livelihoods and not to move to urban areas in the hope for a better life. To this end, a decent price for their produce and services needs to be obtained.
Limited access to land and other natural resources, knowledge, education and financing are seriously hindering family farming development globally. Best practices of coping mechanisms should be widely disseminated.
Co-operation could offer access to investment, technology and markets making family farming viable. An enabling environment, including a clear and simple legislation and a proper taxation system is crucial for the development of co-operatives and farmers’ organisations. Socially responsible partnerships with civil society organizations and with the private sector can play an important role in the promotion of co-operation.
Women are the backbone of family farming but their large contribution is not duly recognized in terms of income earned and access to productive resources and assets. If both women and men have adequate access to productive resources, rural societies can become more resilient. Hence, women’s meaningful participation in decision making processes should be enabled. We should continue raising awareness on the role of women in family farming management and promote women’s equal access to land, credit, education, technology, networks and decision-making processes.
Youth are increasingly losing interest in agriculture and are migrating away from rural areas in search for job opportunities in other sectors. In order to provide young farmers with adequate livelihoods, appropriate income, targeted policies, programs and projects are essential.
The common ground among the views expressed reflects the key position that family farms occupy in sustainable agriculture. Since we all want our agrarian systems and rural networks to be sustainable, we must strive to support family farms.
Economic sustainability is essential for family farming. Viable farming helps to keep young people on the farm. We also need pragmatic co-operation and responsible actions from different stakeholders: especially government, business, farmers and civil society.
Environmental regulations should take into account the measured and internalised positive and negative externalities of different types of family farming. Traditional family farming strongly contributes to environmental sustainability. New environmental challenges should be answered by participative research, knowledge transfer and Life Long Learning.
The social sustainability of family farming is based on the next generation’s willingness to take part in farming and the society valuing the culture behind traditional family farming.