By: Francesco Rampa
Published: Guardian Professional, 19 February 2014

There are an estimated 500m family farms in the world, and family farming is the predominant form of agriculture and main food producer in developed and developing countries.

The rising Africa narrative suggests that there will be a 4.7% growth rate in African economies in 2014, but while this offers opportunities to rural farmers, they often struggle to meet growing demands and find themselves at a disadvantage due to high costs, and low bargaining power.

However, with adequate support, according to director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, José Graziano da Silva, they can quickly realise their productive potential. “They can increase the availability of food in poor communities, preserve traditional food products, support the shift to more balanced diets, safeguard the world’s agro-biodiversity and contribute to food security and sustainable development as a whole.

“Nothing comes closer to the sustainable food production than family farming. The preservation of natural resources is rooted in their productive logic; and the highly diversified nature of their agricultural activities gives them a central role in promoting the sustainability of our food systems and ensuring food security.”

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