Weekly Overview: Family Farms at Centre of World Food Day

GLOBAL - Today is World Food Day, and the focus is on family farming, which underpins food security on a world level and must be led by innovation going forward.
calendar icon 16 October 2014
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Public investment into research, development and advice should be increased, aiming for sustainable intensification and more productivity from land and labour, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on World Food Day.

Education and training should play a part in driving and supporting innovation across the board. The FAO believes this is vital if modern farming's complex demands are to be met.

Officially the year of family farming, World Food Day 2014 aims to showcase family farming businesses as custodians of the land, achieving high productivity levels within sustainable systems.

Using local knowledge and innovative techniques allows the 500 million family farms across the world to produce from often marginal land, catering for a variety of landscapes.

More intensive management of labour and resources allows small and medium-sized farms to have higher crop yields per hectare than larger holdings but small farms produce less per worker overall.

This is according to the FAO, organisers of World Food Day since its inception in 1981, which equates family operations at 56 per cent of world food production.

A spokesperson, ahead of World Food Day, said: “Family farmers are the custodians of a finely adapted understanding of local ecologies and land capabilities.

“As a result of the intimate knowledge they have of their land and their ability to sustainably manage diverse landscapes, family farmers are able to improve many ecosystem services.”

But the economic value is also crucial to rural communities.

“Family farmers have strong economic links to the rural sector,” the FAO added. "They contribute strongly to employment, especially in developing countries where agriculture still employs the majority of the labour force. In addition, the incremental income generated by family farming is spent on housing, education, clothing etc. in the local non-farm economy.”

Just last week, we were celebrating World Egg Day.

From an Egg Rally in Bangladesh giving away 5,000 boiled eggs to an Awards Ceremony in Spain for egg research, people all over the world celebrated the wonderful egg.

Turning from one major global issue to another, FAO has launched a new programme to offer urgent assistance to 90,000 vulnerable households in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone whose food supplies and livelihoods are threatened by the Ebola epidemic.

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