Family Farming World Conference: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.
“Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth” was the title and theme of this conference organized by The World Rural Forum. The main aim of the event was to reflect on the future of family farming and on the obstacles that prevent its development.
The shared idea among the experts gathered in Bilbao was that family farming represents a serious, feasible and sustainable alternative for the future of agriculture, not just at a local but also at a global level. If about 70% of the world's food comes from family farm production, this means that family farming is the sector in which we should intervene in if we want to eradicate hunger and malnutrition that affects millions of people on the planet.
As one can read in the conference's Final Declaration, “[f]amily farming represents a sector of strategic value because of its economic, social, cultural, environmental, and territorial functions. […] Family farming is the basis of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and food sovereignty, of environmental management of land and its biodiversity, of the preservation of the important socio-cultural heritage of rural communities and nations.”
During the conference many factors that oppose the development of family farming were highlighted. Food, financial, fuel crises and also climate change have all been playing a role in hindering the development of family farming. These are issues that affect agriculture in general, and therefore affect family farming too. In addition to these issues, the conference also addressed problems that can be considered as more specific challenges for family farming. In particular, the current dominant economic model was criticised and many policies that often ignore family farms, or worse, put them at a disadvantage in comparison with factory farms.
The Final Declaration summarizes in six points the necessary actions that governments have to take if they want to defend and strengthen family farming:
- “Ensure family farmers’ access and control over natural resources”;
- “Promote sustainable, agro-ecological approaches by and with family farmers”;
- “Ensure access and increased market power of family farmers”;
- “Promote women empowerment and gender equality”;
- “Strengthen organizations of family farmers”;
- “Promote agriculture among the youth ”;
Ultimately, the future of farming will depend on governmental decisions, at national and international levels. We cannot however forget the crucial role played by the many campaigns and initiatives that stimulate governments to take those decisions that support family farming. That is why the Final Declaration considers also as crucial the actions taken by non- and intra- governmental actors, and support, among other initiatives, the idea of Family farming as the theme for the 2014 World Food Day.