Slow Food believes that family farms can play a key role in addressing many of the serious food problems affecting our planet.
Protecting local communities and family food production is vital for preserving biodiversity, eradicating hunger, improving health, ensuring food security, maintaining rural (and urban) livelihoods, managing natural resources and protecting the environment.
Smallholder farmers grow a wide variety of species and hold essential knowledge about their cultivation. This diversity ensures that farmers are better insulated against risk of plant disease, as well as the different conditions and threats presented by climate change. It also preserves natural resources such as soil and water. In addition, family farmers play a pivotal role in local economies, generating income and creating jobs.
Sadly however, smallholder family farmers make up the bulk of the world’s chronically undernourished people, struggling to produce enough food or income to meet their basic needs.
Vulnerable farmers need technical assistance and policies that build on their knowledge and sustainably bolster productivity, as well as improved access to land, water, credit and markets. Greater support is also needed to support women and encourage more young people to take up farming.
This sentiment is echoed by organizations around the world. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) named of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming.