The United Nations Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 (UNDFF) is a global platform elevating the role of family farmers in providing food security and confronting pressing issues. The UNDFF recently hit its three-year mark, prompting stakeholders to evaluate the framework’s achievements, challenges, and opportunities for the remainder of the decade and beyond.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched the Global Action Plan (GAP) of the UNDFF in 2019. The Plan is designed to promote a resilient, healthy, and economically viable food system while contributing to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The UNDFF puts the work of family farmers at the forefront of this vision.

The GAP aims to take a holistic approach to empower under-appreciated producers across the world. Overarching objectives include reforming public policies, bolstering farmers’ organizational and political capacity, promoting gender and generational equity, strengthening climate resilience and environmental stewardship, and complementing traditional knowledge with innovation.

According to U.N. estimates, family farmers are responsible for more than 80 percent of the global food supply in value terms. “In both developed and developing countries, family farming represents the predominant form of food and agricultural production,” Director of the Partnerships Division of the FAO Marcela Villarreal tells Food Tank.

At the same time, this critical group of producers “are generally among the most affected by poverty and vulnerability, and face high levels of economic, financial, social and environmental risk,” Villarreal adds. Hunger, illness, natural resource concerns, and increasing populations are among the burdens endured by family farmers. Compounding these issues are global crises, including climate change, the pandemic, and war.

The President of the IFAD, Alvaro Lario, underscores the “glaring inequalities” present in the food system. “Small-scale farmers receive on average just 6.5 cents of every dollar for the value of the food they produce,” he tells Food Tank.

A lack of “social recognition” and political support exacerbates the “structural weaknesses” and increasing challenges of agri-food systems, notes Villarreal. Family farmers often face difficulties securing access to land, credit, infrastructure, technology, markets, and other services and assets. Tackling these problems in a meaningful way requires “systemic” and “comprehensive” actions, she asserts.

The Decade “puts people, the family farmers and their communities, at the center of the solutions,” says Villarreal. She adds that the activities outlined in the GAP can help “improve context-specific, legal and institutional frameworks to better tailor, prioritize and target interventions and investments.”

Read the full article about family farming by Shelley Rose at Food Tank.