In spite of Big Agra’s claim that GMO foods are a necessity to keep the world well fed, the Food and Agriculture Organization seems to think differently.
Family farms are the “backbone” in the fight against hunger and to achieve sustainable rural development. This is the conclusion of the annual report released today by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In its report on “The State of Food and Agriculture 2013 (SOFA), FAO analyzed the performance and value of family farming, which in 2013 accounted for about 570 million holdings.
For the UN’s body, “family farms, which account for more than nine out of 10 farms in the world, can be a catalyst for sustainable rural development.”
The FAO warns that in a world where demand for food is growing but land and water resources are scarce, farmers will have to produce more and the solution is in the small and medium farmers, not on the hands of large food conglomerates.
“There is considerable scope for increasing production through an increase in productivity of family farms,” says the report.
In its analysis, the FAO underlines how “family farmers manage the agricultural resources of the world and provide over 80% of their food” while living in poverty and food insecurity. Food scarcity is mainly due to monopolization on behalf of large multinational corporations as well as the subsidies that governments provide them with while small and medium size farmers have to go at it alone.
The eradication of poverty in countries with low or middle income must include an increase in the productivity of labor, FAO said. Much is this increase in productivity could directly be addressed by enabling small and medium size farmers provide food for themselves and their communities, instead of having to sell their lands to multinationals for pennies on the dollar and becoming slave workers to the very same corporations that dispossessed them of the livelihoods.
Given this and the importance that these farms represent to produce food to do so sustainably, FAO called for the creation of conditions that enable farmers, especially the application of innovative methods of agriculture.
“Innovation” is the key word of the report and therefore the call for countries to ensure “that research, advisory services, market institutions and infrastructure” also reach small and medium family farms is one of the keys to securing a stable food supply.
“Knowledge and economic incentives” not only help to increase production but are also necessary for farmers to take them into account to “protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity and even for carbon sequestration.”
Therefore, the FAO recommends that agricultural innovation strategies should focus “not only on improving yields, but in a more complex set of objectives, among which farmers include the conservation of natural resources.”
For governments, the FAO urged to “increase public investment in R&D initiatives related to extension services and advice.”
In its report, the FAO explains that over 90% of farms in the world are managed by individuals or small families who rely mostly on their labor.
According to FAO estimates, family farming “accounts for about 70% to 80% of agricultural land and produce more than 80% of the food consumed around the world” .
If the numbers show such a successful outcome from family farming, it is strange that governments continue to subsidize large multinational corporations instead of small and mid size farmers, which would undoubtedly reduce world hunger, waste and environmental pollution.
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