The State Of Food And Agriculture 2014: Innovation in family farming

SOFA-2014-cover-web-en_01FAO’s 2014 report on The State Of Food and Agriculture (SOFA 2014) focuses on the vital role of family farms for food security, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability. The report states more than 500 million family farms manage the majority of the world’s agricultural land  and produce most of the world’s food. That group constitutes 90% of the world’s farmers. Family farms occupy around 70 – 80 percent of farmland and produce more than 80 percent of the world’s food in value terms.

The vast majority of the world’s farms are small and in many lower-income countries farm sizes are shrinking. Globally, farms of less than 5 hectare account for 94 percent of all farms but control only 19 percent of all agricultural land. In contrast, only 1 percent of all farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares, but these few farms control 65 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Many of these large farms are family-owned and operated.

In most countries, small and medium-sized farms tend to have higher agricultural crop yields per hectare than larger farms because they manage resources and use labor more effectively, however they produce less per worker. SOFA 2014 assesses the innovation needed to improve labor productivity. The development, adaptation and application of new technologies and farm management practices, and the wider application of existing technologies and practices, are cited as the pathways towards efficiency in labor productivity, natural resource management and environmental
sustainability as well as food security.

The report sets the following prerequisite circumstances as a backdrop for family farming innovation;

  • Family farms are an extremely diverse group, and innovation systems must take this diversity into account.
  • The challenges facing agriculture and the institutional environment for agricultural innovation are far more complex than ever before; the world must create an innovation system that embraces this complexity
  • Public investment in agricultural research and development and extension and advisory services should be increased and refocused to emphasize sustainable intensification and closing yield and labor productivity gaps.
  • All family farmers need an supportive environment for innovation, including good governance, stable macroeconomic conditions, transparent legal and regulatory regimes, secure property rights, risk management tools and market infrastructure
  • Capacity to innovate in family farming must be promoted at multiple levels.
  • Individual innovation capacity must be developed through investment in education and training.
  • Effective and inclusive producers’ organizations can support the innovation of their members.

According to FAO 2014 is the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), which aims to highlight the role of family farmers in achieving food security and sustainable development.

Below is a sample table showing the agricultural labor productivity of THP program countries and the world based on income grouping. 

You can review the complete report here!

Average annual level(Constant 2004–06 international dollars) Average annual rate of change(Percentage)
Countries 1981–1991     1991– 2001    2001–2012 1981–1991     1991– 2001   2001–2012
Low income 416                419                  490 –0.2                    0.7                 1.9
Lower middle  income 937                902                  1057 1.4                      0.5                 2.3
Upper Middle income 720                1003                 1454 1.3                      3.7                 3.5
World 1141               1261                1535 0.4                      1.7                 2.1
Low and middle income 755                 879                  1144 1.2                      2.2                 2.8
Bangladesh 333                 378                  537 0.2                      2.9                 3.6
Benin 658                 831                  1046 2.0                      3.9                 1.4
Bolivia 1194                1362               1530 1.5                       0.8                1.2
Burkina Faso 270                  334                 370 3.9                       0.4               –0.7
Ethiopia                        216                  265                            0.9                 2.6
Ghana 615                  841                 1010 2.6                       1.6                 1.8
India 555                 658                  763 1.8                       1.5                 2.7
Malawi 319                 344                  494 –1.6                      5.9                 3.9
Mexico 2390               2803                 3797 0.5                        2.9                 2.6
Mozambique 202                 210                  267 –0.7                      4.2                 3.1
Peru 1304               1401                 2000 –0.6                      4.1                 3.7
Senegal 370                 337                  328 0.0                        0.4                 1.7
Uganda 502                 504                  517 –0.2                     0.5               –1.1

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