Chief Executive, Dr. Tolbert Thomas Jallah, describes family farming as “God’s way of farming” that benefits the development of local economies.
He has therefore recommended that governments in the sub-region commit a decade in supporting family farms and local private sector to build resilient livelihoods of vulnerable communities.
“Let’s give them all of the support; let’s ensure that their children will have access to education; let’s ensure that the food will come from the farm to the market and let’s ensure that the roads are good for the food to come to the market,” said Dr. Jallah. “We do not support the large scale agricultural engagement on our continent; we frown at land grab; we are totally against undermining our own security.”
This year’s World Food Day is being commemorated on the theme: “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.” This is in line with the United Nations’ declaration of 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming” to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming to provide food security and nutrition.
A new report by the FAO ‘State of Food and Agriculture 2014’, says nine out of ten of the world’s 570 million farms are managed by families, making the family farm the predominant of agriculture, and consequently a potentially crucial agent of change in achieving sustainable food security.
Family farms produce about 80 percent of the world’s food. Their prevalence and output mean they “are vital to the solution of the hunger problem” afflicting more than 800 million people, noted FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
Family farms are also the custodians of about 75 percent of all agricultural resources in the world, and are therefore key to improved ecological and resource sustainability. They are also among the most vulnerable to the effects of resource depletion and climate change.
While evidence shows impressive yields on land managed by family farmers, many smaller farms are unable to produce enough to provide decent livelihoods for the families.
Family farming is thus faced with a triple challenge: yield growth to meet the world’s need for food security and better nutrition; environmental sustainability to protect the planet and to secure their own productive capacity; and productivity growth and livelihood diversification to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.
“In all cases, family farmers need to be protagonists of innovation as only this way can they take ownership of the process and ensure that the solutions offered respond to their needs,” Graziano da Silva said. “Family farming is a key component of the healthy food systems we need to lead healthier lives.”
At a recent ‘Government for the People Forum’ in Kumasi, local Ghanaian farmers identified poor road networks and lack of markets as challenges impeding food production as a business.
Dr. Jallah observed that “food insecurity is a security issue and this must be clear to all of us, whether people in the mosque – the Islamic community; whether people in the churches – the Christian community; this is a major concern.”
The African Union has also declared 2014 as the year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).
The intent is to “consolidate active commitments towards new priorities, strategies and targets for achieving results and impacts, with special focus on sustained, all Africa agriculture-led growth, propelled by stronger, private sector investment and public-private partnerships”.
Dr. Jallah wants African governments to fulfill their commitments of investing at least ten percent of their annual budget to agriculture.
Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh