Investing in smallholder family farmers… for the future we want

The 37th session of IFAD's Governing Council convenes on 19-20 February 2014 with a focus on investing in smallholder family farmers.

Held annually at IFAD headquarters in Rome, the Governing Council consists of all of IFAD's Member States and is its main decision-making body. Against the backdrop of the International Year of Family Farming, this year's Governing Council focuses on smallholder family farming. Smallholder family farmers are people working in any area of agriculture who derive a significant portion of their income from farming, involve members of the family in managing the farm and rely predominantly on family labour. These farms vary in size, ranging from 0.25 hectare to 10 hectares depending on region, crop and availability of land. Family farms are a global phenomenon. In fact, family farming is the dominant model of agriculture, and its prevalence across areas with diverse levels of development, farm size, capital/land/labour ratios, crops and products, and ecology suggests that family farming offers specific comparative advantages.

The session kicks off with keynote speeches by His Excellency Fabrizio Saccomanni, Minister for Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic and IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. Mr Abdullah Jummah Al-Shibli, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, will deliver a message on behalf of His Excellency Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

Among other highlights, Lucy Hockings, news presenter will moderate the panel discussion Spotlight on the International Year of Family Farming with a panel composed of Ebrahim Georgette Aziz, farmer engaged in cotton and wheat cultivation and director for the Al-Hasakah district of the IFAD-funded North-eastern Region Rural Development Project in the Syrian Arab Republic; Cielo Báez, farmer and active member of the Asociación de Productores Agroecológicos de la Cuenca del Río Anaime (APACRA), a producers' association of the Río Anaime in Colombia; Ibrahim Coulibaly, founder of the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Mali; Oliver Oliem, farmer and manager of the Atok Arabica Coffee Growers and Marketing Cooperative in the Philippines; Luiz Carlos Ribeiro de Lima, Secretary of Agricultural Policy of the Federation of Agricultural Workers in the State of Ceará (Federação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura do Ceará, FETRAECE), Brazil; and Yazidi Rashadi Shaaban, farmer field school ‘graduate' from the United Republic of Tanzania and lead adviser of JUWAPO/JUWAFO – an umbrella dairy farmers' organization, will discuss opportunities and challenges facing family farming and share their visions for the future of family farming.

At the Governors' round table on Investing in smallholder family farmers: sharing experience, Governors will share their visions of the role of smallholder family farmers in the future of their countries, avenues for mobilizing further investment in rural areas and the role that IFAD can play through its investment in rural people.

Nisha Pillai, will explore ways to create the optimal environment for private-sector investments in family farmers with Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unilever, Andrew Rugasira, CEO of Good African Coffee, Merlin Preza Ramos, Director of the PRODECOOP Fair Trade cooperative in Nicaragua, Bill Vorley, Principal Researcher in the Sustainable Markets Group of the International Institute for Environment and Development, and Laksmi Prasvita, Executive Director of PISAgro Secretariat, Indonesia.

Delegates will have an opportunity to hear and interact with IFAD practitioners and learn more about how IFAD-funded projects and programmes are transforming and having an impact on the lives in rural people during the Stories from the field: Investment in the transformation of rural people's lives conversation.


Investing in smallholder family farmers… for the future we want

Smallholder family farmers are people working in any area of agriculture who derive a significant portion of their income from farming, involve members of the family in managing the farm and rely predominantly on family labour. These farms vary in size, ranging from 0.25 hectare to 10 hectares depending on region, crop and availability of land. Family farms are a global phenomenon. In fact, family farming is the dominant model of agriculture, and its prevalence across areas with diverse levels of development, farm size, capital/land/labour ratios, crops and products, and ecology suggests that family farming offers specific comparative advantages.

Smallholder family farmers produce four fifths of the developing world's food. These women and men are key contributors to global food security, custodians of vital natural resources and biodiversity, and central to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Despite this reality, they remain a largely untapped resource, and are disproportionately represented among the world's poor people. The potential economic and social returns to investing in them are enormous.

IFAD has always recognized this. Awareness of the wide-ranging potential returns of investing in smallholder family farmers was one of the main rationales behind the establishment of IFAD in 1977 as the only United Nations specialized agency and international financial institution focusing exclusively on agricultural and rural development. It is why IFAD has, over the course of decades, invested over US$15 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering more than 410 million rural people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. Continued – and in fact heightened – investment in smallholder family farming is essential to reaching the future we want.

Recognizing that there can be no food and nutrition security without smallholder family farming, on the occasion of the International Year of Family Farming, the fifth global meeting of the Farmers' Forum and the thirty-seventh session of the IFAD Governing Council, world leaders, prominent policymakers, academics, leaders of farmer's organizations and private-sector representatives will gather in Rome to reflect on:

  • Putting in place suitable policies to create an enabling investment for smallholder family farming
  • New rural-urban dynamics
  • Trends in public and private investment
  • Changing institutional environment
  • Improving rural infrastructure
  • Establishing appropriate research and extension systems
  • Enabling smallholder family farmers to manage risk
  • Creating an enabling environment for private-sector investment and partnerships.

A future where smallholder family farming is at the centre of agricultural, economic, environmental and social agendas is key for promoting equitable and sustainable development.

Participants are invited to share their visions on the future role of smallholder family farmers in their countries and how IFAD can continue to support them to achieve this vision, building on successful cases and lessons learned.

 


Social media and webcasting

IFAD's Governing Council is an interactive event thanks to a number of social media components. Social reporters will keep the outside world informed through blogs, tweets, posting interviews and pictures on the following IFAD social media channels. You can follow the event via webcast and by following #ifadgc.

Follow live tweets on your mobile device at: http://app.multitu.de/ifad/ifadgc/