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UN Secretary-General, FAO Call for Pro-Family Farming Policies

GLOBAL FORUM AND EXPO ON FAMILY FARMING6 March 2014: Farmers, fishers and pastoralists play a critical role in sustainable agriculture development, eradication of hunger and poverty reduction, according to participants at the Global Forum and Expo on Family Farming. Participants recommended that governments adopt pro-family farming policies to facilitate shifts to more sustainable, inclusive food production systems. The event took place in Budapest, Romania, from 4-6 March 2014.

Key messages from the Forum include: recognition of family farmers' common challenges and values alongside their diverse circumstances; a need to tailor solutions to reflect farmers' diversity; and farmers' need for decent prices and sufficient income to maintain their rural livelihoods. Participants also recognized that limited access to land, education and financing hinder the development of family farming, and viewed farmer cooperatives and producer organizations as a way to ensure access to investment, markets and technology.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for commitments by all stakeholders as part of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). Noting the heavy toll that climate change exacts on agricultural production and rural livelihoods, particularly family farmers reliant on vulnerable ecosystems, Ban highlighted climate-smart agriculture as an area in which he hoped the 2014 Climate Summit will achieve progress. He suggested that governments empower family farmers through better infrastructure, and encouraged public and private lenders to provide credit and insurance. Finally, he called for support for the Zero Hunger Challenge.

“Family farmers are…the guardians of the world's agro-biodiversity and of a large part of the natural resources—soils, water, forests, fish stocks—that will be needed by future generations for their survival,” according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva. He described family farmers, fisher folk, forest-dependent people and pastoralists as the world's biggest source of employment and part of the hunger solution. Graziano da Silva recommended protecting family farmers from land grabbing and land insecurity. He highlighted the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure and its Principles on Responsible Agricultural Investments, which is currently being negotiated, as important mechanisms for protecting farmers' access to land and ensuring sustainable investments that respect rural community's rights.

The Forum included presentations and discussions on five Regional Dialogues that FAO held as part of the IYFF. The FAO appointed three special Ambassadors on Family Farming at the Forum, who join two previously nominated ambassadors. [UN Press Release] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [FAO Press Release] [Statement of FAO Director-General] [Forum Website] [Chair's Summary] [Voluntary Guidelines Website] [IISD RS Story on Food Security in Post-2015 Agenda] [IISD RS Story on IYFF]