Family Farming – For Future Food Sustainability!

Family Farming – For Future Food Sustainability! (Rome). On November 22, at the event of the Ceremony for the World Day of Alimentation, the United Nations will proclaim 2014 the International Year of Family Farming. The event aims at raising the profile of family farming, calling international public attention to its contribution to the war against hunger and poverty through securing food, bettering living conditions, and protecting the environment and biodiversity.

What is family farming? It is a model that organizes farm produce, forestry, fishing, pasturing, and water through the management of a family that predominantly relies on its own members, men and women, as the work force rather than hired workers. The family and the farm are closely connected. They grow together and involve economic, environmental, reproductive, social, and cultural processes.

When we say family farming, we are speaking of guaranteeing food supplies. In fact, 70% of the world's food is produced by family farmers. It leads to the lessening of poverty, the growth of rural agriculture, and even the poor in the cities benefit because food is easy to find and close at hand. It safeguards biodiversity besides being the source of agro-diversity. Family farming can guarantee the preservation of plant species thanks to the utilization of many varied seeds and strong native species that are capable of adapting to and spreading in diverse terrains. The women have a role in the process of production. Therefore, family farms have always served society and they represent a vehicle for the growth and occupation of rural zones. Today, these small enterprises contribute to furnishing quality foodstuffs for over 500 million consumers.

The president of the Commission for Professional Farming Organizations of the European Union (Copa) affirms, “Family farms, which represent a good part of the 25 million persons who work in farming, are much loved by all the citizens. I too manage a family farm that has been handed down from generation to generation and plays a key role in the rural economy. With the aim of guaranteeing its generational renewal in the future, farming must be a profitable and economically sustainable activity. Thus it is fundamental to guarantee that the new reform of the Common Farming Politics (PAC) be applied correctly and that the bureaucracy be reduced to a minimum.

Even research and innovation are fundamental so that the farmers may have access to new technologies and can profit from them, for example, from new cultivation varieties. Access to the Internet, health facilities, and child care centres are important for the family farms that are in rural zones, as they are for all of us.

In view of the International Year of Family Farms 2014 of the United Nations, there will be various events that will analyze ways to better the situation, to have greater interaction between the family farms and society, and to stimulate political forces.

On November 29, 2013, FAO is organizing a European conference on the theme: “Family Farming: A Dialogue for Stronger and Sustainable Agriculture in Europe and in the World”. Other events will be organized during 2014 and this theme will be taken up in the Congress for European Farmers in 2014 as well.

The earth is much more that the ground we tread, water, or pollute. From its origins, humanity has made a return to the earth one of its vehicles of identity, both in the area of religion as in that of politics and culture. The earth is a category of the imaginary to which narrators, thinkers, and travellers have had recourse, sometimes enriching it. “Remain faithful to the earth”, wrote Nietzsche . It is a phrase that each of us can make our own because the earth is continually intertwined with life in all its forms.

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