Key Measures to Ensure Family Farms Meet Growing Food Demand

GLOBAL - At a major conference organised by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Copa-Cogeca outlined the key measures needed to ensure family farms can meet growing world food demand, which is expected to climb 60 per cent by 2050.
calendar icon 13 December 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

With 842 million people suffering from chronic hunger in the world – that is one in eight people – it is crucial to improve the situation of family farms to meet this demand.

The United Nations chose 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming to focus attention on the role of family farms in alleviating this hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Speaking at the event, which was hosted by Copa-Cogeca, Gerd Sonnleitner FAO Goodwill Ambassador for Family Farming said: "My family farm has been handed down for generations since the 13th century. Family farms have the potential to feed the world. But we are facing more and more challenges like market volatility, climate change, an imbalance of power in the food chain.

"These problems must be overcome. Investment in the sector must be stepped up and research and innovation encouraged. Education and training must be provided. Unfair and abusive practices in the food chain must be tackled so that farmers have a better chance to generate income from the market.

"A recent survey that we commissioned to an independent company estimated that the impact of the unfair trading practices of the retail sector in the agri-food sector at 10.9 billion euros per year in loss of turnover. We must work together to feed the world."

Cogeca President and ICA representative Christian Pees from Coop de France, who is also a family farmer, went on to highlight the key role that producer organisations like cooperatives play for family farms in rural areas . They are an excellent model to help family farms exist across the world. They enable farmers to better market their produce and add value to produce to get a higher return. They help farmers to better manage the extreme volatility on agricultural markets and help strengthen their position in the food chain by concentrating their farming members production .

A recent study of the European commission has demonstrated that in EU countries with higher market shares of cooperatives in the milk sector, farmers receive significantly better prices (by some 10 per cent to 15 per cent), compared to countries with low market share of dairy cooperatives.

Lorenzo Ramos, a family farmer and President of Upa from Spain, highlighted the many benefits of family farms, being a key a driver of growth and employment in rural areas. He insisted that it is crucial to ensure family farms are profitable in the future to ensure food security and ensure young farmers enter the sector.

"2014 should not be seen as a way just to celebrate the International Year of Family Farming, but to really change some policies in order to improve their situation," Mr Ramos said.

Ms Koning-Hoeve, President of Copa Women Committee and a family farmer in the Netherlands meanwhile outlined key points needed to ensure generation renewal in the future like ensuring that family farms have access to land natural resources. She also highlighted the irreplaceable contribution of women to family farms, stressing it must be acknowledged across the world.

With family farmers income half the average level, Marianne Streel from the Belgian Farmers Union FWA and a family farmer herself concluded by highlighting the need for family farmers to earn a decent income from the farm and for policies to be connected to the economic production role of farms in ensuring good quality food supplies for millions of consumers. Too often policies are devised by people who are remote from farms, she warned.

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