16 Oct 2014

World Food Day 2014 - Family Farming: feeding the world, caring for the earth

Today is World Food Day. It’s a time to bring global attention to the significant role of family farming and smallholder farmers in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development, particularly in rural areas.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) commemorates World Food Day on 16 October, the anniversary of the founding of FAO in 1945. This year the theme is "Family Farming: feeding the world, caring for the earth" to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers.

There are more than 500 million family-owned farms around the world, contributing more than 80 percent of the world’s food supply. Smallholder farmers shoulder the food security for nearly 2 billion people. In fact the UN General Assembly has designated 2014 “International Year of Family Farming”, a strong signal that the international community recognises the important contribution of family farmers to world food security. 

The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) was present at FAO Headquarters in the Plenary hall to represent the world’s farmers during the High-level World Food Day ceremony today.

"WFO has struggled to reposition family farming at the center of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development.” - stated Dr. Evelyn Nguleka, WFO Acting President. She was unable to attend the ceremony due commitments in Zambia as President of the Zambia National Farmers' Union (ZNFU).

To open the World Food Day ceremony there was a screening of a video featured showcasing the World Food Day theme Family Farming:Feeding the world, caring for the earth”.  Watch it here.

There were two keynote speakers who spoke about dedicated support to family farming: Her Majesty the Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development: and Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, making for gender balance during the high-level ceremony.

Statements were delivered by:

Following the ceremony, FAO launched it's annual flagship publication, “State of Food and Agriculture 2014” (SOFA), presented by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. This year the report focuses on innovation in family farming. The report highlights the need to promote the sustainable development of the more than 500 million family farms that manage the majority of the world's agricultural land and produce most of the world's food.

In the afternoon, H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and European Union (EU) Commissioner Dacian Ciolos took part in a Special Event that was organised jointly by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), World Food Day, and the International Year of Family Farming entitled "Innovation in Family Farming: Towards Ensuring Food Security and Nutrition". The engaging event was moderated by Laurie Goering of the Thomson Reuters Foundation with Santiago Del Solar, fifth generation Argentine Farmer and Manager of Asociacion Argentina de Consorcios Regionales de Experimentacion Agricola (ACREA) on the expert panel.

To commemorate World Food Week, a series of major events have been taking place at FAO. The 41st Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS41) convenes from 13-18 October to discuss policies in relation to food losses and waste, and how sustainable fisheries can support food security and nutrition. On behalf of the world's farmers during CFS41, WFO has been participating actively, and has co-organised four Side Events. Read more

Yesterday, on 15 October, the Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang addressed FAO on China's achievements and contribution to global food security and agricultural development. During his speech, Li Keqiang announced that China will make a USD $50 million donation to FAO to support the Organization's program of "South-South cooperation" to improve food security and promote sustainable agricultural development over the next five years.

Also on 15 October, Thomson Reuters Foundation and FAO launched a comprehensive global news platform dedicated to food issues, designed to raise awareness of global hunger and food security related issues. It is hosted on http://www.trust.org/food/.

The new platform held a debut at a launch event as part of World Food Day celebrations. The high-level panel discussion, titled "Feeding the global family: Does climate change put us all at risk?", brought together experts from Uganda, Argentina, India, Canada, and the US to debate how food production can be increased sustainability while dealing with ever-growing climate threats. Charles Ogang - President, Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) and WFO Auditor was on the panel, as was Santiago Del Solar, Argentine Farmer and Manager of ACREA.

Read more about World Food Day at http://www.fao.org/world-food-day/home/en/, and watch this Video: Launch of the International Year of Family Farming.