"Let us make it clear that family farming is synonymous with Southeast Asia. Through the empowerment of family farms and family farmers, we will be able help address the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition in this region," FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Kundhavi Kadiresan said here on Thursday.
Kadiresan delivered the statement at the opening session of the Regional Conference on Strengthening Southeast Asia Food Security, Nutrition, and Farmer Welfare through the UN Decade of Family Farming, with the Indonesian government covening the meeting.
Kadiresan pointed out that family farms play a predominant role in the production of most of the world's food, or some 80 percent, and are the biggest employment providers across the world.
"Family farms sustain productivity on, what is often, marginal land, and provides local consumers with fresh food, including poultry, livestock, fish, fruits and vegetables, along with other staple foods, which are critical to achieving good nutrition," she stated.
Nonetheless, the FAO pointed to the yet impoverished condition of several family farms that reel under the impacts of food insecurity. Smallholder farmers largely own a significant chunk of farmland of below five hectares in Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, farms are comparatively smaller, and a considerable majority of them occupy below one hectare of land.
Furthermore, family farmers, who particularly bear the brunt of rural poverty, have to encounter significant hurdles in getting access to credit, services, technologies, and markets that will assist them in boosting productivity of their natural resources and labor.
Another area of concern is that available agricultural sector employment opportunities are linked to less and unstable incomes, low levels of safety and health, gender pay and opportunity gap, and restricted social protection.
"Significant challenges pertaining to family farming and climate change, gender, youth and decent work call for taking a hard look at policies," Kadiresan remarked.
Hence, Kadiresan further emphasized the significance of innovating, providing access to rural credit, specifically for womankind, in addition to bringing about changes in the rural social protection programmes as the key to assisting Southeast Asia's family farmers boost their livelihoods and realize greater food security.
"Innovation is necessary for boosting the welfare of family farmers and strengthening their resilience. Innovation in policies and the enabling environment. Innovation in technologies, and innovation in institutions. Most importantly, family farmers must be at the heart of these innovations," she stated.
Identifying the principal roles of family farming, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that officially declared the 2019-2028 period as the Decade of Family Farming. The resolution has given acknowledgement to family farmers as the key leaders in the path to achievingg the world's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly to guarantee global food security, end poverty, eradicate hunger, conserve biodiversity, realize environmental sustainability, and assist to tackle migration. EDITED BY INE