Last March 24, 2014, the soft opening for the celebration of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) was held at the Department of Agrarian Reform covered gym. One of the guest speakers who talked about the IYFF is Secretary General Ma. Estrella Penunia-Banzuela of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development who is also the IYFF Special Ambassador Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific.
The family farmers are considered not just an agrarian economic model but also a very essential unit in the environmental management of the land and its biodiversity. They are also the pillar of the integral development of all nations. Thus, the United Nations has officially declared 2014 as International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) during the 66th Session of the General Assembly last September 2011. The IYFF was made possible through the initiative of the World Rural Forum in 2008 in collaboration with 350 organizations and 60 countries and through a proposal passed by the Philippines in 2011.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the IYFF aims to raise the family farming profile and small holder farming by focusing world attention on its important role in alleviating hunger and rural poverty, providing food security through sustainable production and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and promoting sustainable development in agriculture, forestry, and fishery production systems at the rural areas in particular.
Moreover, the IYFF promotes internal awareness where initiatives and plans led by countries or regions are focused on strengthening the contribution of family farmers and smallholders towards sustainable development. It has four specific objectives: 1) support the development of policies contributing to sustainable family farming; 2) increase the knowledge, communication, and public awareness when it comes to family farming, food security contributions, specific roles of women and youth in family farm models, current trends and policies, access to information, etc.; 3) obtain a better understanding of the family farm needs, potentials and constraints, and ensure them with available technical support, and; 4) create synergies for sustainability.
To meet their objectives, the IYFF has three lines of action. The first is the promotion of dialogue in policy decision-making processes to ensure that the IYFF messages influence relevant policy decision-making processes. The second line of action is the identification, documentation and sharing of lessons learned and successful experiences of existing pro-family farming policies at the national and other levels. The third line of action is through the use of communication, outreaches, and advocacy to reach out to farmers and their associations, decision-makers, financial institutions, media and the general public.
At present, the family farmers around the world provides for 70% of the world’s food production which is a big contribution in the fight against worldwide hunger and malnutrition. There are 3 billion rural people in developing countries, 2.5B of which are engaged in family farming. In the Philippines, 12M Filipinos are in the agricultural sector that makes up 32% of the total employment percentage of the country.
In a nutshell, the IYFF promotes the crucial part of the family farmers in the efforts of the United Nations, the public and private sectors in providing security and poverty alleviation.