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Launch of International Year of Family Farming – 2014

The International Year of Family Farming 2014 is an initiative promoted by the World Rural Forum and supported by over 360 civil society and farmers’ organizations from 60 countries across five continents. This worldwide celebration, declared by the United Nations General Assembly, aims to become a tool to stimulate active policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems based farmer families, communities, indigenous groups, cooperatives and fishing families.

Official launch of IYFF -2014 in the UN headquarters. Mirna Cunningham and Ibrahin Coulibaly, special ambassadors for the IYFF-2014.

Official launch of IYFF -2014 in the UN headquarters. Mirna Cunningham and Ibrahin Coulibaly, special ambassadors for the IYFF-2014.

All this work is being made from the perspective of effectively combating poverty and hunger and the search for a rural development based on the respect for environment and biodiversity.Strengthening Family Farming is the most efficient means to combat hunger and poverty. Seventy percent of the food consumed in the world is produced by Family Farming, in all its diversity, and 40% of the families in the world live from this activity.

“The most effective way to combat hunger and malnutrition is to produce food near the consumers, precisely what Family Farming does, not the large itinerant investors”, explains Jose Antonio Osaba (WRF), Coordinator of the IYFF-2014 Civil Society Programme. In his opinion, to strengthen the work of the millions of family farmers in the world (nearly 2,500 million people in rural areas live from agriculture in developing countries) it is necessary for countries to guarantee “the protected access to land, water, sea and other natural resources. In addition, “the right of people to produce their own food” needs to be acknowledged.

On November 22nd 2013, the official launching of the International Year of Family Farming -IYFF-2014, took place at the UN, New York. The WRF -representing more than 360 organisations from 60 countries together with the FAO Director General, Mr. Graziano da Silva, the representatives of the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary General, etc, shared messages.

Without exception, the act was a great hymn of appreciation to the more than two billion women and men family farmers, traditional fishers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, landless labourers. Many ministers and ambassadors from several countries took the floor and pledged to uphold and support Family Farming, as the best model to feed the Humanity and to care for the Planet. The three special ambassadors of the IYFF-2014, appointed by the Secretary General of the FAO, shared very strong and brave messages defending Family Farming, indigenous peoples, etc.

In India, several Civil Society Organisations marked the occasion by organizing the launching progrmame at several places – AME Foundation in Bangalore, SEWA in Gujarat and Deccan Development Society in Andhra Pradesh to mention a few. In all the three places, farmers took the center stage.

In Bangalore, farmers from three South Indian States participated. Shri Chiranjiv Singh, former Development Commissioner, Dr. R. Dwarakinath, Chairman, AME Foundation and former VC, UAS, Bangalore, Dr. Premnath, Chairman, PNASF, Bangalore, Dr. N Nagaraja, DE, UAS, Bangalore, Dr. Y V Malla Reddy, Director, Accion Fraterna, Anantapur, Dr. Narayana Reddy, Organic farmer, Prof. V Veerabhadraiah, President, UAS Alumni Association, and Dr. T M Thiagarajan, former Dean TNAU were the distinguished guests for the occasion. The occasion provided a great opportunity to all to hear farmers share how the family farms meet their multiple needs (food, income nutrition), how their ecological farms bring down costs of cultivation and dependencies on external inputs. Also, it was a beginning for exploring policy enabling mechanisms to support the small holders as a first step towards better conditions for family farming.

In the Launch programme organised by DDS in Zaheerabad in Andhra Pradesh, 500 women peasant farmers attended, All members of six farmer families were honoured, Representatives from top academic institutions, like DG, NAARM and State Agriculture University attended and appreciated the efforts, promised to highlight their efforts in their regular academic situations. In the event organized by SEWA, Gujarat women farmers representing 9 states participated to celebrate the launch.

In preparing this note, inputs from Mr. Jose Antonio Osaba, World Rural Forum, Dr. P V Satheesh, DDS and Dr. Reema Nanavathy, SEWA were used.