Groups say focus on family farming to feed a growing world

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As farmers and ranchers look for strategies to increase production to feed a growing world population, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and Food Tank suggest the best way to nourish the world is through increased production from family farms.

FAO predicts the world population will increase by 34 percent to reach 9.1 billion by 2050. In preparation for 2014, the International Year of the Family Farming, an organization focused on finding sustainable agricultural solutions and FAO are highlighting ways to provide family farmers the tools they need to really nourish the world.

In a release by the two organizations, Food Tank co-founder Danielle Nierenberg says family farming plays an important role in improving nutrition. Family farming can enhance soil health, protect water supplies, improve nutrition, and increase incomes.

FAO and Food Tank focus on five ways to support family farming globally. Those five strategies include:

Promote sustainable agriculture methods
In an analysis of 40 projects and programs, sustainable techniques like agroforestry and soil conservation increase yields for African smallholder farmers.

Assist family farmers in adapting to climate change and short-term climate variability
In sub-Saharan Africa, Farmer Field Schools teach farmers to mitigate climate change by managing inputs such as pesticides more effectively while increasing yields and incomes.

Promote policies to provide smallholders with legal titles to their land
Landesa works with countries to implement land rights programs, and helped 100 million farmers obtain or secure ownership over their land.

Increase access to local markets
Farmers markets can provide a great venue for family farmers to sell their products directly to consumers.

Close the gender gap
Closing the gender gap in agriculture could lift 100–150 million people out of hunger.

If public and private sectors direct funding toward family farmers, smallholder agriculture can get the push it needs to nourish both people and the planet.

Barbara Gemmill-Herren, Program Officer at FAO, says the organizations' strategies will build on existing knowledge of sustainable agriculture to improve resilience in the food system.

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Kentucky  |  August, 08, 2013 at 10:07 AM

This is a breath of fresh air. I urge all those on the network who believe U.S. production will "feed the world" to take these recommendations seriously. To be sure it is a complicated and longer-term process, but if we really do hold concern for the best interests of people around the world and not just our immediate desires, this is clearly the path of the future.

Kilgore Texas  |  August, 08, 2013 at 10:54 AM

I agree with you, but it can not be done. It is opposite to Agenda 21. Why it even wants to give farmers title to the land when agenda 21 is against all private ownership of land. they will find a dozen excuses why it is a bad idea, and can NOT be done.

texas  |  August, 08, 2013 at 01:49 PM

I replied and it is gone. Is it against the rules to talk about aqgenda 21?

Kentucky  |  August, 08, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Graywolf, your argument comes largely from the property rights movement, which is supported by the so-called Tea Party. This is an ideological argument that equates development to private property, while it seems to me that Food Tank envisions a balance between private and public property, with a strong emphasis on local. Certainly this is a debate that continues, but I urge you to be careful about equating Agenda 21 with opposition to "all private ownership of land." What is desired is more public attention and participation in implementing sustainability and food security, a process that is essential if it is to work in poorer parts of the earth. The program perceives land to be controlled by local users through their councils (which I believe is one of the arguments of the Tea Party) rather than large private concerns, which has been a problem in various regions. Sure, in the U.S. private property often is seen as the driver of productive development, but this isn't, and cannot, be the case for much of the world. As always, it's complicated - look deeply into the documents and in the case of Agenda 21, its evolution.

Texas  |  August, 08, 2013 at 01:56 PM

I have done extensive research on Agenda 21. They want NO private property other than that owned by the elite. Sustainability to agenda 21 is not the same we think of for small farms. If agenda 21 is so great why have they changed the name for the 3 rd time? Do not be fooled by words. They make words mean what they want not what Webster says it means.

August, 08, 2013 at 11:18 PM

Graywolf12 is right. Agenda 21 is bad news. Private property rights are under attack because of it. Without private property liberty and freedom will be replaced by tyranny and then as is always the case production will decline. All that aside, I do agree with the majority of the article-the family farm is awesome!

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