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SMALL WORKS BETTER: THE CASE OF FAMILY FARMING November 27, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, African Poor, Agriculture, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia.
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The paradox, however, and one of the reasons why despite having so little land, small producers are feeding the planet, is that small farms are often more productive than large ones. If the yields achieved by Kenya’s small farmers were matched by the country’s large-scale operations, the country’s agricultural output would double. In Central America, the region’s food production would triple. If Russia’s big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six. Another reason why small farms are the feeding the planet is because they prioritise food production. They tend to focus on local and national markets and their own families. In fact, much of what they produce doesn’t enter into trade statistics – but it does reach those who need it most: the rural and urban poor. If the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on. The data show that the  concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day. – http://www.grain.org/article/entries/5072-telling-family-farming-fairy-tales

 

 

 

Telling family farming fairly tales

An opinion piece by GRAIN published by Reuters.

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. As part of the celebrations, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released its annual “State of Food and Agriculture”, which this year is dedicated to family farming. Family farmers, FAO say, manage 70-80 percent of the world’s farmland and produce 80 percent of the world’s food.

But on the ground – whether in Kenya, Brazil, China or Spain – rural people are being marginalised and threatened, displaced, beaten and even killed by a variety of powerful actors who want their land.

Farmer Djeneba Diarra on her farm in Heremakono, Mali (Photo: Joe Penney/Reuters)Farmer Djeneba Diarra on her farm in Heremakono, Mali (Photo: Joe Penney/Reuters)

A recent comprehensive survey by GRAIN, examining data from around the world, finds that while small farmers feed the world, they are doing so with just 24 percent of the world’s farmland – or 17 percent if you leave out China and India. GRAIN’s report also shows that this meagre share is shrinking fast.How, then, can FAO claim that family farms occupy 70 to 80 percent of the world’s farmland? In the same report, FAO claims that only 1 percent of all farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares, and that these few farms control 65 percent of the world’s farmland, a figure much more in line with GRAIN’s findings.

The confusion stems from the way FAO deal with the concept of family farming, which they roughly define as any farm managed by an individual or a household. (They admit there is no precise definition. Various countries, like Mali, have their own.)

Thus, a huge industrial soya bean farm in rural Argentina, whose family owners live in Buenos Aires, is included in FAO’s count of “family farms”. What about sprawling Hacienda Luisita, owned by the powerful Cojuanco family in the Philippines and epicentre of the country’s battle for agrarian reform since decades. Is that a family farm?

Looking at ownership to determine what is and is not a family farm masks all the inequities, injustices and struggles that peasants and other small scale food producers across the world are mired in.

It allows FAO to paint a rosy picture and conveniently ignore perhaps the most crucial factor affecting the capacity of small farmers to produce food: lack of access to land. Instead, the FAO focuses its message on how family farmers should innovate and be more productive.

Small food producers’ access to land is shrinking due a range of forces. One is that because of population pressure, farms are getting divided up amongst family members. Another is the vertiginous expansion of monoculture plantations.

In the last 50 years, a staggering 140 million hectares – the size of almost all the farmland in India — has been taken over by four industrial crops: soya bean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane. And this trend is accelerating.

In the next few decades, experts predict that the global area planted to oil palm willdouble, while the soybean area will grow by a third.These crops don’t feed people. They are grown to feed the agroindustrial complex.

Other pressures pushing small food producers off their land include the runaway plague of large-scale land grabs by corporate interests. In the last few years alone, according to the World Bank, some 60 million hectares of fertile farmland have been leased, on a long-term basis, to foreign investors and local elites, mostly in the global South.

While some of this is for energy production, a big part of it is to produce food commodities for the global market, instead of family farming.

SMALL WORKS BETTER

The paradox, however, and one of the reasons why despite having so little land, small producers are feeding the planet, is that small farms are often more productive than large ones.

If the yields achieved by Kenya’s small farmers were matched by the country’s large-scale operations, the country’s agricultural output would double. In Central America, the region’s food production would triple. If Russia’s big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six.

Another reason why small farms are the feeding the planet is because they prioritise food production. They tend to focus on local and national markets and their own families. In fact, much of what they produce doesn’t enter into trade statistics – but it does reach those who need it most: the rural and urban poor.

If the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on. The data show that the concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.

According to one U.N. study, active policies supporting small producers and agro-ecological farming methods could double global food production in a decade and enable small farmers to continue to produce and utilise biodiversity, maintain ecosystems and local economies, while multiplying and strengthening meaningful work opportunities and social cohesion in rural areas.

Agrarian reforms can and should be the springboard to moving in this direction.

Experts and development agencies are constantly saying that we need to double food production in the coming decades. To achieve that, they usually recommend a combination of trade and investment liberalisation plus new technologies.

But this will only empower corporate interests and create more inequality. The real solution is to turn control and resources over to small producers themselves and enact agricultural policies to support them.

The message is clear. We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems worldwide.

FAO’s lip service to family farming just confuses the matter and avoids putting the real issues on the table.

Read more @ http://www.grain.org/article/entries/5072-telling-family-farming-fairy-tales

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Family farming preserves traditional food products, while contributing to a balanced diet and safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. August 22, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Food Production.
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Pictures: family Farming in Oromia

Family farming preserves traditional food products, while contributing to a balanced diet and safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. FAO

http://www.fao.org/family-farming/en/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social+media&utm_campaign=fao+facebook

Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities, and it is linked to several areas of rural development. Family farming is a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labour, including both women’s and men’s.

Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector.

Family and small-scale farming are inextricably linked to world food security. Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector. Family farmers carefully manage their lands to sustain remarkably high levels of productivity despite having less access to productive resources such as agricultural inputs and support (most research shows an inverse relationship between land size and productivity).

Family farming preserves traditional food products, while contributing to a balanced diet and safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. Family farmers are the custodians of a finely adapted understanding of local ecologies and land capabilities. Through local knowledge, they sustain productivity on often marginal lands, through complex and innovative land management techniques. As a result of the intimate knowledge they have of their land and their ability to sustainably manage diverse landscapes, family farmers are able to improve many ecosystem services.

Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies,especially when combined with specific policies aimed at social protection and well-being of communities. Family farmers have strong economic links to the rural sector; they contribute strongly to employment, especially in developing countries where agriculture still employs the majority of the labour force. In addition, the incremental income generated by family farming is spent on housing, education, clothing etc. in the local non-farm economy.

How to strengthen family farming?

To realize the full potential of family farmers in eradicating hunger and ensuring food security, an enabling policy environment is necessary. This includes greater recognition of their multiple contributions, as well as an acknowledgment and reflection of these in national dialogues and policies. Fundamental first steps are for countries to articulate their national definitions of family farming, and collect data on the agricultural sector that recognizes and organizes farmers’ contributions systematically.

At national level, there are a number of factors that are key for a successful development of family farming, such as: agro-ecological conditions and territorial characteristics; access to markets; access to land and natural resources; access to technology and extension services; access to finance; demographic, economic and sociocultural conditions and availability of specialized education among others. Targeted agricultural, environmental and social policy interventions in support of family farmers are necessary in order to make tangible changes and sustainable improvements.

The International Year of Family Farming

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with Governments, International Development Agencies, farmers’ organizations and
other relevant organizations of the United Nations system, as well as relevant non-governmental organizations, is facilitating its implementation with the following objectives:

  1. Support the development of agricultural, environmental and social policies conducive to sustainable family farming
  2. Increase knowledge, communication and public awareness
  3. Attain better understanding of family farming needs, potential and constraints and ensure technical support
  4. Create synergies for sustainability

Read more @http://www.fao.org/family-farming/en/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social+media&utm_campaign=fao+facebook