Go to content

Home | Publications

Family farmers for sustainable food systems

(Brussels, 03/06/2013) “Family farming is the basis for modern food provision in Africa, today and tomorrow. It generates food and employment for the majority of the population and the wealth of the region, conserving its natural resources” shows the synthesis report by the europAfrica platform launched today in Brussels, titled: “Family farmers for sustainable food systems: A synthesis of reports by African farmers' regional networks on models of food production, consumption and markets”. The report is released on the eve of the G8 meeting, in the UK, when G8 governments will promote the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an initiative in which African farmers’ organisations have been marginalised. “Family farmers are the basis of Africa’s food system. They feed 80% of Africa’s peoples. They provide jobs and sustain the environment. They can realise a sustainable food system and food sovereignty, if supported and protected,” said Patrick Mulvany (Practical Action/UK Food Group) While the G8 is meeting, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is conducting an important negotiation on principles to ensure that agriculture investment guarantees peoples’ right to food and access to resources. “The G8 has no legitimacy in determining food security priorities for Africa. The only  democratic and inclusive global process for deliberating on food issues is the CFS in which family farmers have a voice. The G8 should strengthen that process,” said Nora McKeon (Terra Nuova)

The view from Africa

The report focuses on food networks in which small-scale family farmers, livestock keepers and artisanal fishers are key actors, producing and trading food for Africa’s peoples. It shows that Africa has 33 million family farms of less
than 2 hectares, which make up 80% of all farms in the continent. They provide most of the food and most  livelihoods in Africa, supporting resilient social structures in rural areas. Family farmers invest in the improvement and sharing of knowledge, skills and expertise, the development of their seeds and in their contribution to sustaining the environment. “Investment by farmers is around 85% of all investment in agriculture in Africa. This immense investment by farmers needs to be complemented by public investment in services
and infrastructure. We need more commitment by governments because they have an essential role to play by tailoring national investment frameworks, policies and programmes to support the needs of family farmers. We want guarantees to our rights of access to and control over productive resources (land, water, agricultural biodiversity), not to have them undermined and our resources commodified and captured by corporations” concluded Mamadou Goïta (IRPAD), the author of the regional report by ROPPA.

Key findings

  •  Investing in family farming and small-scale food production will improve food provision, social and environmental sustainability and safeguard livelihoods for the majority.
  • Guaranteeing rights of access to and control over productive resources- land, water, agricultural biodiversity is essential to support family farming and small-scale food production and resilient food systems.
  • Sustainable sources of credit, social protection measures and grain reserves and livestock resources are needed to strengthen the resilience of family farming and local food systems.
  • Strengthening and building agricultural and food markets, which are within the control of family farmers and small-scale food producers, support socially and environmentally sustainable production, and provide accessible quality food for consumers, is essential.
  • Participatory research in support of, and determined by, family farmers and small-scale food producers is required to enhance the adaptive capacity and resilience of food provision.
  • The public sector has an essential role to play by tailoring national investment frameworks, policies and programmes to support the needs of family farmers. With effective and decisive engagement in policy processes and practical implementation, family farmers and small-scale food producers will become
    architects of their own futures and those of their societies.
  • To build a sustainable food system for the future, research and data collection need to prioritise the means by which the majority of people access food and thus to actively seek information on the informal and mostly ‘invisible’ production, processing and trade within the food system.
    This Synthesis Report is based upon the following reports:
  • Mamadou Goïta, Système de production, de transformation et de commercialisation des produits en Afrique de l’Ouest: une illustration avec le cas du mil dans la région de Sikasso au Mali. ROPPA, 2013.
  • Patrice Abessolo Amougou, Systèmes alimentaire durables dans l’Afrique de l’Ouest, de l’Est et Centrale.PROPAC, 2013.
  • Shem Mecheo, Models of production and consumption and local markets: building on the experiences of African family farmers in their struggles to realize food sovereignty. EAFF, 2013.

The report is supported by the More and Better Network and the Heidehof Foundation.

Download, here, the flyer

Also the Nyeleni Newsletter, the voice of the Food Sovereignty Movement, speaks about Family farmers for sustainable food systems. Read here