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Commitment 2

Photo: Jason Taylor

Strong Small-Scale Farming Systems

Ensure equitable land distribution and public investment that supports small-scale farming systems, including through redistributive agrarian reforms that counter excessive land concentration, provide for secure and equitable use and control of land, and allocate appropriate land to landless rural producers and urban residents, whilst supporting smallholders as investors and producers, such as through cooperative and partnership business models.

ILC is accountable first and foremost to those who live on and from their land. This means that, while all ILC members are equal, farmers’ organisations (alongside those of Indigenous Peoples and women) occupy a particular place in its life and work. A growing proportion of the membership – including in the 2018 intake – directly represents smallholders and family farmers.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) 2016 “The State of Food and Agriculture” report, about 750 million extremely poor people worldwide work in agriculture, usually as smallholder family farmers. Family farmers produce more than 80% of the world’s food and control 75% of all agricultural resources.

A significant achievement of the past three years has been the strong engagement and influence of Coalition members representing family farmers. In 2016 the Global Initiative on Family Farming was launched, led by the World Rural Forum (WRF). It brings together important regional farmers’ organisations (both ILC members and non-members) in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. Supported by the global initiative, regional initiatives are also being launched in 2018 by ILC members. The linkages between global and regional will allow members to work together on a common strategy.

Led by FIAN International and La Via Campesina, ILC is supporting discussions on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, established by the UN Human Rights Council. Members have been successful in strengthening the Declaration’s focus on women’s land rights.

The efforts of the WRF, with the support of a range of ILC members, led to the declaration in December 2017 of the UN Decade of Family Farming 2019–2028. This offers great opportunities for ILC members, including NES platforms and intergovernmental members such as IFAD and FAO. The Decade aims to inspire the international community to generate new political commitment to supporting family farmers.

Auxtin Ortiz of the WRF explained: “This has been the culmination of a nine-year process starting in 2008 with a request to the UN General Assembly to declare an International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). Over three years of campaigning, we gathered support from 360 organisations in 60 countries, several governments, and international organisations such as FAO, IFAD, and IICA. The UNGA agreed in 2011 that the IYFF would take place in 2014.”

The process of preparation and the IYFF itself achieved several important milestones, including 16 public policy changes in 13 countries and greater social recognition for family farming. It also influenced the place of family farming in the SDGs, while the international research centres FAO and IICA changed their strategic plans to mainstream family farming.

During the campaign for the Decade, the WRF became an ILC member (Guatemala, 2013). According to Ortiz, ILC’s support for the campaign was prompt and enthusiastic. “In 2017 we started the CBI on family farming to increase the activity of family farming organisations in ILC and strengthen their voice across the network. In the first year of the initiative, one of the main objectives was to have the Decade declared by the UNGA. On 20 December 2017, the UNGA officially adopted the Decade of Family Farming.”

The resolution passed with 104 co-sponsors and unanimous approval. It acknowledges family farmers as key leaders in the pursuit of the SDGs, specifically in “ensuring global food security, eradicating poverty, ending hunger, conserving biodiversity, achieving environmental sustainability, and helping to address migration.”

Ortiz explained: “The Decade is for all those working and promoting family farming in the world. It is not the property of any group of organisations alone. There are national committees and farmers’ organisations on the ground, and they have their agendas and priorities. The Decade is a tool to promote these objectives. What we have done is create an opportunity, but it is a first step and now is when the hard work starts. Now we need to make these 10 years into a positive change for family farmers.”