Family Farmers for Sustainable Food Systems


Dear Friends and colleagues

Re: Family Farmers for Sustainable Food Systems

Africa has 33 million family farms of less than 2 hectares, which make up 80% of all farms in the continent and are the main source of food and livelihood in rural areas. Farmers’ investments comprise about 85% of total investment in agriculture in Africa. 

A new report by EuropAfrica states that “Family farming is the basis for modern food provision in Africa, today and tomorrow…. (It) generates food and employment for the majority of the population and the wealth of the region, conserving its natural resources.” Entitled “Family farmers for sustainable food systems: A synthesis of reports by African farmers’ regional networks on models of food production, consumption and markets”, the report focuses on local food networks in Africa in which small-scale family farmers, livestock keepers and artisanal fishers play a central role. 

The key findings as summarized in the report are: 

1.       Investing in family farming and small-scale food production will improve food provision, social and environmental sustainability and safeguard livelihoods for the majority.

2.       Guaranteeing rights of access to and control over productive resources – land, water, agricultural biodiversity is essential to support family farming and small-scale food production and resilient food systems.

3.       Sustainable sources of credit, social protection measures and grain reserves and livestock resources are needed to strengthen the resilience of family farming and local food systems.

4.       Strengthening and building agricultural and food markets, which are within the control of family farmers and small-scale food producers, support socially and environmentally sustainable production, and provide accessible quality food for consumers, is essential.

5.       Participatory research in support of, and determined by, family farmers and small-scale food producers is required to enhance the adaptive capacity and resilience of food provision.

6.       The public sector has an essential role to play by tailoring national investment frameworks, policies and programmes to support the needs of family farmers. With effective and decisive engagement in policy processes and practical implementation, family farmers and small-scale food producers will become architects of their own futures and those of their societies.

7.       To build a sustainable food system for the future, research and data collection need to prioritise the means by which the majority of people access food and thus to actively seek information on the informal and mostly ‘invisible’ production, processing and trade within the food system. 

The report was launched in June 2013 on the eve of the G8 meeting in the UK. The full report can be downloaded from: 

Note: The Synthesis Report is based upon the following reports:

· Mamadou Goïta, Système de production, de transformation et de commercialisation des produits en

Afrique de l’Ouest: une illustration avec le cas du mil dans la région de Sikasso au Mali. ROPPA, 2013.

· Patrice Abessolo Amougou, Systèmes alimentaire durables dans l’Afrique de l’Ouest, de l’Est et Centrale. PROPAC, 2013.

· Shem Mecheo, Models of production and consumption and local markets: building on the experiences of African family farmers in their struggles to realize food sovereignty. EAFF, 2013.


With best wishes

Third World Network

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