Budapest, Hungary

4 March 2014

Secretary-General's Message to Global Forum and Expo for Family Farming [delivered by Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations]

I am pleased to send greetings to the Global Forum and Expo for Family Farming.

This Forum allows us to recognize the important contribution made by small- and medium-scale farmers, fishing communities and pastoralists to sustainable development and meeting the Zero Hunger Challenge, which seeks to eradicate hunger through sustainable food systems. 

I commend the Forum’s focus on the three dimensions of sustainability: economic, social and environmental.  Family farms harmonize all three aspects and, in the best instances, enable the principles of sustainable stewardship of land and fisheries to be handed down to succeeding generations.

One of the principal requirements of sustainable food systems is resilience in the face of environmental and economic shocks.  Climate change is exacting a heavy toll on agricultural production and rural livelihoods with increasingly frequent extreme weather, such as drought and floods.  Family farmers face particular risks, since they are more likely to rely on vulnerable ecosystems.  Enabling smallholders to adapt through climate-smart agriculture is one of the areas where I hope to see progress in the Climate Summit I am convening on 23 September in New York.

This year is the International Year of Family Farming.  It calls for commitments from every stakeholder.  Governments can empower family farmers, especially women and youth, by creating policies conducive to equitable and sustainable rural development.  This includes better infrastructure to reduce the amount of food lost after harvest when small-scale producers are unable to store, process and transport their goods.  Agricultural research and extension agencies can tap into traditional knowledge to tailor appropriate technologies.  And public and private lenders can provide vital financial services, such as access to credit and insurance.  The private sector can also promote accountability and social and environmental responsibility throughout the value chain from farm to fork.

I encourage all actors to support family farmers and take up the call to action to meet the Zero Hunger Challenge.  Let us enable every man, woman and child to enjoy the right to food and adequate nutrition within our lifetime.