Feeding the world while caring for the earth


Progress update on the 2014 International Year of Family Farming

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) wrapped up in November 2014 after a year in which the importance of family farming to reduce poverty and improve global food security became a centrepiece of worldwide attention and action.

The IYFF provided an opportunity to open a dialogue about more inclusive and sustainable approaches to agricultural and rural development that:

  • Recognize the importance of smallholder and family farmers for sustainable development;
  • Place small-scale farming at the centre of national, regional and global agricultural, environmental and social policies;
  • Elevate the role of smallholder farmers as agents for alleviating rural poverty and ensuring food security for all; as stewards who manage and protect natural resources; and as drivers of sustainable development.

Around the world, the critical importance of family farming to local, national and world economies and food security is vast.

Globally, 500 million family farms employ and support 2.5 billion people – more than one-third of the world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 239 million people face serious consequences related to food security and nutrition. Family farming – i.e., maximizing yield on small plots of land, usually under two acres – is an effective model that can provide solutions to overcome these challenges.

Although often restricted in their ability to farm commercially, women provide the vast majority of labour for family farms in Africa. This activity plus their own agricultural activities (for domestic food production and consumption only) are essential for household food security and adequate nutrition.

CFTC is addressing these limitations in a variety of ways.

Every food security initiative we support is delivered with a dual lens on the cross-cutting themes of gender equality and environmental sustainability. Here’s a quick update on some of our food availability, access and nutrition initiatives taking place in our countries of operation:

  • In Canada, food sharing, communal meal preparation and community rituals around food are important ways that First Nations people are addressing the problems of food insecurity, the high cost of living, and loss of culture.
  • Urban gardens supported by CFTC’s local partner IPTK are important strategies to support family food security in Bolivia.
  • Climate Seeds Knowledge (CSK) groups preserve, share and trade indigenous, climate-adapted seeds, leveraging women’s traditional knowledge and breaking down barriers to women’s participation in commercial agricultural activities.
  • CEDO-run Farmer Field Schools (FFS) in Uganda improve participating farmers’ production and income by supporting better crop management decisions, and building resilience and adaptability to environmental changes.

According to IFAD Secretary Rasit Pertev, the IYFF has caused “a paradigm shift” in support of the interests of family farmers. At CFTC, we have seen – and also made – this shift in our own work, as we have honed our focus on food security over the past several and, with your help, continue to we work to create
a hunger-free, food-secure world for women, men and children.

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