International Year of Family Farming

Past events

Profitable family farming: the way forward

Op-ed by Michael Hailu, Director of CTA

2014 has been celebrated as the International Year of Family Farming, demonstrating the growing recognition among the international community of the need to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies.

There are over 500 million family farms around the world, and many face numerous challenges, including insecure land rights and limited access to inputs, improved seeds, modern farming techniques, training, extension services and profitable markets. However, family farms play vital roles not only in providing much of the food we eat but also in safeguarding agro-biodiversity and sustaining communities and cultures. If family farms can increase their productivity and competitiveness they can contribute even more, not only to addressing food and nutrition security but also to generating sustainable economic growth.

CTA has been making a well-targeted contribution to raise the profile of family farming throughout 2014.

The Centre kicked off its campaign by publishing four position papers on ways to rejuvenate family farming:

  • Increasing access to credit and financial tools,
  • Enhancing knowledge-sharing practices, and
  • Expanding use of ICTs Development of inclusive commercial value chains.

These position papers are available in CTA’s online dossier on family farming. These were followed up by special editions of the ICT Update and Spore magazines that highlighted efforts by a wide range of ARD stakeholders to build resilience of family farming.

Working closely with its partners, CTA also developed numerous activities to encourage youth and agri-entrepreneurs to engage in family farming, including an e-debate on ‘Youth sustaining family farming through ICTs’. CTA’s Ardyis project initiated this activity in collaboration with the African Youth Foundation (AYF). During this year’s Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo), special prizes were awarded to two blogs on family farming.

But all of these efforts would come to naught without a conducive policy environment and investments to support family farms, and the Centre supported many efforts to establish these conditions in 2014. In the Caribbean, for example, CTA worked with the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP) to assist its country chapters in presenting the impacts of their members’ family farming at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Suriname. In the Pacific region, the Centre helped Women in Business Inc. (WIBDI) to develop mobile apps that enhance their ‘Farm to Table’ campaign by making their products more easily available to hotels and restaurants. CTA also engaged with agricultural extension networks of the ACP regions at the annual meeting of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) to explore how ICTs can support knowledge sharing and advisory services.

The International Year helped raise awareness of the importance of family farms to agricultural and rural development, to food and nutrition security and to efforts to deal with and adapt to climate change. CTA has launched many activities focused on family farming this year and the engagement will continue beyond the current campaign.