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article imageSmall farms lead the fight against world hunger

By Bill K. Anderson     Oct 17, 2014 in Food
The struggle continues for world hunger as it is now clear that small farms hold the key to a survival of people, though change must occur to maneuver around problems that are otherwise simple.
Questions concerning the problem of small farm survivability have not fully addressed the representatives of Member States of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) meeting in Rome from 13 to 19 October for the 41st session of the Committee on Food Security (CFS). This caused lament and on Wednesday, Oct. 15th, organizations civil society (NGOs, farmers' organizations, social movements) represented an advisory capacity, in this instance.
“Without storage, conservation facilities and transportation to sell their wares, small farms in Africa suffer up to 15% post-harvest losses,” says Salifou Ouedraogo, Director West Africa NGO SOS Sahel, “and being unable to sufficiently develop and diversify their production, they are more vulnerable to climatic hazards and food crises. "
The first form of agriculture in the world with nearly 500 million farms, family farming now produces over 80 percent of world supply. “Family farms are one of the keys to food security and sustainable rural development,” says the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in a publication from Thursday, Oct. 16th at the World Food Day, for open family farming innovation.
While it has long been left dormant, supporting small-scale agriculture is becoming more and more a priority for the international community in the southern countries that will fight against hunger. Especially since these family farms are also the most affected by food insecurity, said FAO. Of the 805 million people suffering from hunger in the world, 70 percent are small food producers.
“Public support for innovation must take into account the particular structure of family farming in each country and context,” presses the UN organization in its report, adding that the vast majority of farms in the world are small or very small, and in many low-income countries continue to see their area decrease. In the least developed countries, more than 95 percent of farms are less than 5 hectares. For the small farms that were invisible in past three years, agricultural investments have favored large agribusiness sectors for export at the expense of development of local markets and infrastructure necessary for the development and strengthening of family agriculture.
To secure land rights, in 2003, African states have pledged to increase investment in the agricultural sector with the objective to assign 10% of their budget. “If countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso meet or exceeded this goal, agricultural public investment would still exceed 5%,” says Ouedraogo.
A priority to help small farmers escape poverty need to hit several points: develop infrastructure to improve access to markets, promote access to inputs to increase yields, secure land rights of users of agricultural land, focus on agricultural research varieties better adapted to local conditions or promote agricultural practices to mitigate the effects of weather conditions. While emphasizing their failures, many countries are emphasizing the very profitable nature of public research investment in agricultural developments.
On Wednesday, the CSA adopted, “responsible agricultural investment principles,” after two years of negotiations. “Essential to improving food safety, responsible investment contributes significantly to reinforce sustainable livelihoods, especially for small farmers and members of marginalized and vulnerable groups.”
But the principles laid down have many shortcomings, denounced by the civil society. In particular, the text does not recognize the principle of free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples affected by agricultural investment, and therefore will not fight against the land-grab phenomenon. Worst of all, it doesn’t give the priority to public investment needed to strengthen family farming and agro-ecological practices.
“It excludes a priori any investment not defining a responsible investment,” said Clara Jamart, in charge of food safety issues Oxfam. Silence continues to be another present threat to agricultural practices harmful to both people and the planet.
More about small farms, World food day, World hunger
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