Background Note on ‘Commemorating the UN Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028): Striving for Local Sustainability at the Global Level’

Almost 80 per cent of the utmost poor live in rural regions and are involved in farming. Hence, dedicating resources to rural development and sustainable agriculture and sustaining smallholder farmers, especially women, is integral to poverty termination.

In this wake, the U.N. General Assembly passed the resolution with 104 co-sponsors and unanimous approval to officially declare 2019–2028 as the Decade of Family Farming. The Decade aims to inspire the international community to generate a strengthened political commitment supporting family farmers and creating pro-family farming policies. This will lead to recognition of the encouraging impacts of collaboration among family farmers through farmer-to-farmer cooperation which is important for facilitating exchange of experience and knowledge to scale up cost-effective, traditional and innovative solutions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those in Goal 2, whether contribute to the achievement of other goals and interrelated targets.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have been asked to lead the implementation of this mission, in collaboration with other relevant UN organizations.

The FAO initiated the International Steering Committee for the International Year of Family Farming, in 2014, which adopted the following definition of family farming: Family farming (which includes all family-based agricultural activities) is a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominately reliant on family labour, both women’s and men's. The family and the farm are linked, coevolve and combine economic, environmental, reproductive, social and cultural functions. (FAO, 2013)

According to the World Bank, ‘Agricultural development is one of the most powerful tools to end extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity and feed 9 billion people by 2050. Growth in the agriculture sector is about two to four times more effective in raising incomes among the poorest compared to other sectors.’ Sustaining and promoting family farming is a very effective strategy in the fight against poverty.

The Decade will also contribute to the implementation of the agreements reached during the course of the negotiations of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and, specially, the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Family farming is not only the largest source of employment in developing countries and the foundation of socio-economic development in rural environments globally, it is the social base on which the Right to Food, recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, should be made a reality.

Small farmers following subsistence agriculture can be sustained by mitigation and adaptation approaches. Climate change is most likely to impact developing countries with small land-holders the most. The already documented effects, including higher temperatures, fluctuations in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events, pose threats for agriculture. One of the prime concerns is developing climate resilience. Hence, mitigation can be a practical and substantial action point to strengthen adaptation and augment food security. In this manner, climate-smart agriculture becomes a significant contributor to mitigation actions, of course in connivance with national priorities.

OBJECTIVES: The overall objective of the Decade of Family Farming is to contribute to the international community’s efforts to end poverty in all its forms, reduce inequality and combat climate change, while ensuring that no one gets left behind.

The specific objectives include:

  • Contributing to efforts to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Increasing the visibility and recognition of the important role that family farming plays in feeding the world population, creating jobs, building peace, and combating climate change, among other issues
  • Promoting better public policies in favour of family farming and creating, strengthening and promoting mechanisms and spaces for political dialogue, including National Committees for Family Farming
  • Increasing collaboration between different stakeholders that operate in the rural areas
  • Encouraging research centers to include family farming among their priorities
  • Ending discrimination in all forms against women and girls in rural areas, promoting their empowerment through the increasing of their access to information, productive and financial resources and decision-making processes
  • Promoting an environment that encourages youth to work in family farming, so that they can remain in the countryside and become agents of sustainable development

Expected Outcomes

  • Substantial contribution to the implementation and scope of the 2030 Development Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the SDG number 2 and other related Goals and Targets.
  • Increased agricultural productivity and incomes of family farmers, particularly women, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and fishermen.
  • Increased sustainable food production and resilient agricultural practices that contribute to ecosystem maintenance, strengthen the ability to adapt to climate change, extreme weather events, droughts, floods and other disasters; and to progressively improve soil and land quality.
  • Increase in rural employment and reduction of rural-urban migration and between countries, especially young men and women.
  • Design and implementation of laws and programs focused on family farming, paying special attention to access to productive resources and to the improvement of infrastructures and services in rural areas.
  • Progressive recognition of the equal status of rural women as well as the progressive increase in rural women's access to land and other productive resources, investment, credit, training and information.


  • What are your initiatives as an organization on the onset of the Decade of Family Farming?
  • How can the development and implementation of public policies in favour of Family Farming that contribute to the achievement of the Decade’s agenda within the SDG framework be encouraged?
  • How can collaboration and partnerships be promoted between different actors (governments, international organizations, agricultural organizations, rural associations, research centers, etc.) to facilitate the implementation of the Decade’s agenda?
  • How can climate-smart agricultural approaches serve the case of family farming or small holder farmers?