Sunday, 12 January 2014

Undertanding what Family Farming entails..................

Toki Oshima Potryal of  Family centered farming
If you've been going through most of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO)  repository from last week of November 2013, you will notice the continued appearance of IYFF or as its called the International Year of Family Farming. Which in turn makes you wonder,what does family farming entail and  why did they  FAO designate 2014 to be the year of family farming?

Picture this hypothetical scenario.

Mary* lives on a 5 acre farm together with her parents and her five siblings. Mary's father acquired this land in Meru after the piece he had inherited from his father became too small for any productive farm activity to be undertaken. In this land which has been Mary's home for the last 10 years, they grow maize, legumes and at the same time keep poultry,sheep and dairy cows.

Being quite a large family, they rarely outsource labour but instead Mary and her siblings provide the same in the farms.The income from the sale of the farm produce is used to cater for some expenses like education, medical and stuff. The family rarely buys food as they get the same from the farm.

For Mary's family, the farm is everything, the producer, the provider, the teacher. Its where Mary and her siblings got firsthand the virtues of hard work and caring for the crops and animals.

Mary's family scenario isn't alone.

Photo Credit: Fredhoogenvorst
They belong together with other 600 million smallholder farmers and herders globally who tirelessly work to provide food to the +7 billion people in the world. This in itself comes with quite a lot of challenges the likes of a rapid growing population in need of being fed, water scarcity for farmlands, lack of land, unending hunger and malnutrition and climate change. In line with recognizing the smallholder farmers and their contribution to food security, FAO designated 2014 as the Year of Family Farming  to bring to attention the family farms, the challenges they face and hence find sustainable ways of helping these farmers .

 Family farms have the potential of not only feeding the population but also for nurturing the next generation of farmers while at the same time providing employment opportunities and caring for the environment. The benefits are quite widespread.


At the same time, let us not forgot that the majority of smallholder farmers are women. Advocating for women and youth inclusive moves would go a long way in meeting the 4 key  objectives of the #IYFF which are outlined as thus;


  • Support the development of  policies that aim at creating a suitable operating environment for family farming.
  • Increase public awareness on the importance of family farming.
  • Enhance the understanding of the potentials and challenges that face family farming.
  • Create synergies  with other global causes to enhance sustainability of the #IYFF



Photo Credit Melanie Cook


The ball is now in our court!

Join/follow the conversation on twitter via  #IYFF


Related Articles for Further Reading
Opinion: This is the moment
Theme overview - Ten qualities of family farming

* Indicates a purely fictional character.