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A new initiative aimed at promoting the vast potential of family farmers has been launched by the FAO.
It is hoped that the 'International Year of Family Farming' will help in the fight to eradicate hunger and preserve natural resources.
In both developed and developing countries, over 500 million family farms, defined as farms that rely primarily on family members for labour and management, produce the food that feeds billions of people. In many developing countries family
farms represent up to 80 percent of all farm holdings.
The launch of the International Year in New York was attended by UN officials, ambassadors to the UN, government ministers and civil society leaders who will serve as special ambassadors for the year.
José Graziano da Silva, the FAO's director-general stressed the huge productive potential of family farmers.
"By choosing to celebrate this year, we recognize that family farmers are leading figures in responding to the double urgency the world faces today: improving food security and preserving the natural resources, in line with the Millennium Development Goals, with the debate on the post-2015 development agenda and the Zero Hunger Challenge," Graziano da Silva said.
Speaking on behalf of FAO, which is the lead UN agency for the year, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, he added: "Nothing comes closer to the sustainable food production paradigm than family farming. Family farmers usually run non-specialized, diversified agricultural activities that give them a central role in securing environmental sustainability and preserving biodiversity."
He portrayed most family farmers, as well as fisher folk, pastoralists, indigenous people and traditional communities, as among the world's most vulnerable populations, a situation that the year will try to address.
"We need to reposition family farming at the centre of national and regional development programmes," he said. "Governments play a key role in leading the support so that family farming can reach its potential.
"This includes offering technical assistance and policies that support the productivity increase of family farms; placing appropriate technologies within their reach; improving their access to land and water, credit and markets; and creating an enabling environment for further investments," he added.
Visit the FAO website here...
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