The International Year of Family Farming- Forward to the Future

Advancing participatory communication

Enabling community dialogue

Promoting gender equality

Raising farmer’s voice

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) officially concluded at a ceremony in Manila, the Philippines, late last week and was attended by representatives from a range of partners in rural development. The event helped to conclude a year in which the importance of family farming to reduce poverty and improve global food security was recognized by the international community. 

Above all, strong political commitment in favour of family farming has risen at the highest level in countries of the south and the north, throughout the IYFF,” said Marcela Villarreal, director, Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Office of Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development.

Villarreal noted how, thanks to IYFF, many more people around the world were now aware of the importance of the sector.

The Way Forward 

Statistics show that family farms produced more than 80 per cent of the world’s food in value terms and represented, collectively, one of the largest sources of employment worldwide.   If we want a world where extreme poverty is eradicated  all women and men are well nourished, benefits from growth are equitably distributed and temperature increases resulting from climate change are manageable- then the international year should be a starting point! We must continue to pay homage to those who feed the world and care for the Earth. 

"Perhaps the greatest success of the International Year is the strong political commitment we achieved," said Graziano da Silva at an event held in Rome. "This can be seen, for example, in the attention that family farming is receiving in the post-2015 development agenda."

The FAO Director-General also stressed the need to look beyond production and acknowledge family farms as transmitters of knowledge and central allies in providing healthier diets, including through strong local food systems that link farms to schools and communities.

Communication and Family Farming: An Inextricable Link  

There is growing consensus on communication and community media as drivers for social change in rural areas: they facilitate access to timely information for improved agricultural production and, above all, they encourage farmer participation in the rural development process.

During the FAO-AMARC led regional virtual consultations on Communication for Development, Community Media and ICTs for Family Farming, which aimed to showcase the contribution of ComDev, community media and ICTs to family farming in the Africa region, the following statements were made:

  1. Most people now have access to mobile phones but they only use it to make calls. Some can't even send sms. I think that the literacy level of farmers has a role to play in communication development as it concerns family farming. Many family farmers own the blackberry phones but they are unaware of the facilities and opportunities such devices offer (Ms. Benedicta Chinedu, Nigeria).
  2. “There should be baseline/mapping of existing methods and practice as regards family farming and rural communication in the various region/countries.  This will help provide concrete data that will be built upon. It will also bring out the best approach in the respective region/countries as different experience tells peculiar stories and nature. It will help to give a balanced evaluation of success and failure of already existing practices” (Philip Slaboh, Nigeria).

The FAO- AMARC Awareness Campaign

In the framework of the IYFF, FAO and AMARC have joined forces to launch an awareness campaign on the key role played by family farming and community media in supporting rural development and hunger eradication. The main objective of the campaign was to use community radio as a platform to share information with the farming community and to involve them further in the discussion regarding the role which family farming plays in economic and social development.  A series of radio campaigns have recently been spearheaded jointly by FAO and AMARC.  They have been produced at the regional level on a variety of issues such as policies which promote family farming, the challenges which family farmers face and the important role which women play in the sector.  Have a listen to the FAO-AMARC productions on family farming in Jordan and Tunisia !   

The YenKasa platform will continue to provide a space where community media and agricultural practitioners can come together and dialogue about the way forward!