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Meet the families farming their way towards a sustainable future

18 March 2024

Family farms produce 80 per cent of the food we eat. These farms, which are tended by members of the same family, are the beating heart of rural communities.  

They’re places where older generations pass on their traditional knowledge, where sons and daughters innovate, and where women and men work together for household prosperity.  

Most family farms are small, with higher yields than industrial farms at a lower environment cost. They're key to building sustainable food systems – and to eradicating poverty and achieving zero hunger worldwide.  

Let's meet some of the families around the world whose farms are thriving with IFAD's support. 


© IFAD / Laisiasa Dave / Pacific Farmer Organizations

Sheik Ifraaz Saheb’s family has cultivated sugarcane for four generations, but the 36-year-old farmer and his wife Farah were determined to try something different. With his father’s blessing, and support from IFAD, they converted one acre of their farm in Fiji to grow vegetables: coriander, long bean, bongo chilies and breadfruit. The young couple also received training on new sustainable farming methods, like intercropping, which allow the family farm to grow sugarcane without depleting the soil.  


© IFAD / Kondwani Jere 

Alefa Ofesa (42) and her husband Lloyd Phale (45) have been farming their small piece of land in Malawi together since they were in their twenties. Today, their hard work is reaping benefits for their three children. Through an IFAD-supported project, they learned how to make their farm climate-resilient by building terraces and dams, preventing fertile soil from being washed away by storms. Now that the family is earning more, Alefa and Lloyd are investing in their children’s education. 


© IFAD / Bob Baber

Everything 62-year-old Marufa Tavurova knows about beekeeping, she learned from her father. Today, she’s passing on the family tradition to her son, Davlater. “My father always kept bees, so I was used to being around them,” she says. “If you find a good place for the bees, where there are plenty of flowering plants, they will thrive.” Marufa and Davlater are part of an IFAD-supported beekeeping group in Tajikistan that supplies quality honey to the community, boosting local markets.


© IFAD / Andrew Esiebo

Carolyn Felix and her daughter Bella aren’t just family, they’re business partners. Ever since they learned about the nutritional benefits of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, the pair have been cultivating this tasty tuber with support from IFAD. They’ve developed a whole range of healthy sweet potato products: bread, flour, snacks and even drinks, which they sell in their shop in central Nigeria

Sri Lanka

© IFAD / Ruvin de Silva

Mushroom farming is a family affair for Nadeeshani (far left). As a child, she watched her parents cultivate tasty fungi in a small mud hut. Today, with support from IFAD, she’s expanded their farm to sell both fresh mushrooms and mushroom-based products to national supermarkets in Sri Lanka. Working together with her sisters and her parents, she's been able to make this family farm a successful woman-led business.  


© IFAD / Giancarlo Shibayama / Factstory 

Victor Bovadilla and Palmira Rodríguez have been married five years, but they’ve farmed together for far longer. Through an IFAD-supported project, they’re receiving technical assistance on growing top-quality Tahiti limes. Now their farm in the Amazon rainforest is thriving – and Victor and Palmira are getting ready to sell their limes more widely in Peru and beyond using e-commerce. 


© IFAD / Ibrahima Kebe Diallo

In the past, Zakaria Amara Baby could only farm during the winter season, when rain finally falls in Mauritania's arid south-west. Today, the small plot of land he cultivates with his son Cheikh is green year-round. Thanks to irrigation infrastructure provided by IFAD, Zakaria grows onions, aubergines, carrots and watermelons, even in the summer. “I have progressed, my wife has progressed, and my children have progressed – my farm has progressed,” says Zakaria. 

As we approach the midpoint of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming, it’s time to recognize that family farms are where the past, present and future of rural communities meet. It’s time to support them so that they can improve their livelihoods and build diverse, sustainable food systems.