Family Farming (FF) refers not only to production, but also to a lifestyle that respects the environment, preserves biodiversity, protects cultural traditions and promotes territorial development. The development of family farming entails increasing the supply of food so as to reduce unemployment, poverty and malnutrition rates among the most vulnerable rural populations. Because family farming is essential for food security and the rural economies of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), differentiated public policies are needed that take into account the special characteristics of FF in the environment in which it operates.
In the LAC region, around 16.5 million units are farmed by families who make up a population of around 60 million individuals. Fifty-six percent of those farms are in South America, and 35% are in the Central American countries and Mexico. Of those farms, 17.8% are managed by women.
Rural women are responsible for more than half the food production in the world, and they play a vital role in preserving biodiversity by conserving seeds, restoring agro-ecological practices and guaranteeing sovereignty and food security, through the production of healthy foods.
In addition, approximately 9.6 million young people between the ages of 15 and 29 work in the agriculture sector in LAC. In order to ensure that these young people, or at least some of them, stay on the farm, governments and other institutions, as well as the families themselves, must formulate comprehensive strategies for improving their working and living conditions.
As a result of a number of actions taken, in particular, by social organizations, Family Farming is at the head of LAC’s rural agenda. Several social and international organizations, especially those belonging to the World Rural Forum (WRF), and governments have followed up on the consensus reached in the context of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). More than ever before, the fundamental role of family farmers in ensuring food security has been recognized, and their social and economic importance and significant changes are underway in public policies of some countries.
At the national level, many of the stakeholders in family farming decided to join forces and set up national committees on family farming as platforms for multi-stakeholder political dialogue on public policies for family farming. At the request of the national committees and with a view to working proactively to strengthen and ensure the viability of family farming, the World Rural Forum, with the support of the Government of Costa Rica, will lead an effort to propose to the United Nations General Assembly that it declare a Decade of Family Farming (IYFF+10).
With the aim of discussing and establishing a position on differentiated policies and institutional structures for the development of family farming that can be applied in the countries of the region, and in order to make specific contributions to the processes that are currently underway, such as achievement of the sustainable development goals and development of family farming coordinated by multilateral organizations, the Government of Costa Rica, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with the support of the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC), the Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD), the Regional Committee on Family Farming (RCFF) and the Specialized Meeting on Family Farming of Mercosur (REAF) are partnering to organize the International Week of Family Farming and Rural Development.
- To encourage governments to carry out an analytical and prospective discussion of policy options and to strengthen institutional structures for family farming, with special emphasis on rural women and young people in LAC;
- To promote the proposal for a Decade of Family Farming and submission of a draft Declaration to the United Nations General Assembly;
- To strengthen the national committees on family farming and the permanent regional mechanisms for dialogue on differentiated public policies on family farming in Central America, the Andean Region and Mercosur;
- To conduct advocacy on issues relating to public policies on family farming within multilateral agencies such as OAS, CAS, CAC, CAN, CARICOM, CELAC and others.