According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 80 percent of the world’s food is produced by family farmers. And approximately 72 percent of farms worldwide are less than one hectare, while just 6 percent are larger than five hectares, according to the FAO.

To examine the challenges faced by these small family farmers and to celebrate FAO launched the new Family Farming Knowledge Platform (FFKP) to support better policies for family farmers and provide data for governments and organizations.

"There was a need to share knowledge on family farming—on the different kinds of policies that governments have implemented and the numerous activities of family farmers and their organizations in the field," says Francesco Pierri, Chief of the Advocacy Unit in the FAO Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development.

Family farming includes fisheries, forestry, and livestock production in addition to crop production. "Family farmers feed our communities and take care of our earth—they are crucial allies in the fight against hunger and rural poverty," says FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

The new digital platform provides a wealth of information, data, and legislation, aiming to build stronger public policies in support of family farming worldwide. "There is a lot of information available on the web, but it's scattered—we wanted one single access point for all the information out there, for anybody working in this field to use,” says Pierri. Statistics, academic reports, and case studies will be added to the platform as further research becomes available.

Through the FFKP, the FAO is democratizing innovation by disseminating family farmers’ creative solutions to the challenges of climate change, resource scarcity, and farm business management. Publicly available information not only improves the visibility of farmer-led solutions but also provides grassroots support for effective public policies that support food producers.

The data and research gathered by the FFKP have the potential to unlock farmers’ solutions to everyday challenges. By engaging farmer networks and organizations via the platform, the FAO expects that the conversations spurred by the IYFF will continue to push for effective policies and raise global awareness of the daily realities of working in agriculture.

Smallholder farmers are seen by the FAO as crucial to achieving sustainable use of natural resources, providing food security and balanced diets to local communities, and breaking cycles of rural poverty. These farmers face immense obstacles such as limited access to land, credit, and technology; poor basic services and infrastructure; and imminent climate threats.

However, policies often fail to recognize the contributions of smallholder family farmers and are not geared to supporting them. FAO recommends better policies focus on access to credit and finance, improvement of trade and markets, and sustainable use of natural resources. Farmer-led research and extension—amplified by farmers’ traditional knowledge—will also be vital to the cultivation of a new generation of family farmers.

Now is the time to recognize and support family farmers’ traditional knowledge in the international arena and major multinational institutions. Governments should prioritize implementing the voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries, and forests, which were passed within the Committee on World Food Security. Join Food Tank in urging governments to protect farmers’ traditional knowledge through the proposed sustainable development goals and support family farmers around the world. Read more about this issue and sign the petition HERE.

What organizations and networks do you know of that are supporting family farmers across the globe? Share your ideas with me at Danielle@foodtank.com!

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