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IFAD and FAO Join Forces to Support Family Farming in the Near East and North Africa


The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have joined forces to foster inclusive and sustainable family farming as the central cornerstone for a vibrant, productive and profitable agriculture across the Near East and North Africa (NENA).

This was announced today during the e-launch of the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) in the NENA region. The event brought together government ministries, farmers’ organizations, civil society, research institutions and international organizations to define priorities and implement a regional action plan for this decade.

“Family farms worldwide have immense potential to become core players and to support developmental strategies aimed at increasing food security, making food systems sustainable and managing natural resources,” said Dina Saleh, IFAD’s Regional Director for the Near East, North Africa, Central Asia and Europe Division. “Family farming is viewed as an optimal model, effectively helping to restore environmental degradation and sustain natural resources. For generations, farmers have looked after the farms they inherited from their ancestors with great care and with the desire to pass on the responsibility, and we are strongly committed to supporting them.”

“Taking into consideration the specific characteristics of the NENA region and its unique challenges, it is of paramount importance to introduce a new generation of enabling policy environment and technical interventions tailored to the region, with focus on the socio-economic inclusion of youth and women, to promote agri-food systems transformation, while putting family farming at the center,” said Serge Nakouzi, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa.

Panel discussions during the launch event focused on lessons learned thus far and the vision for future actions. Speakers familiarized the virtual audience with the objectives of the UNDFF and the Global Action Plan (GAP), also taking into consideration the need to build more resilient and sustainable food systems in response to COVID-19.

The coordinated efforts between IFAD and FAO are being scaled up in the context of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF), which runs from 2019 until 2028.

Despite the huge potential for family farms to contribute to food security and although agriculture is the major source of income in many rural areas in NENA, with more than 80 percent of agricultural production provided by small-scale agriculture, family farming remains neglected in major agriculture- or food security-related policies in the region.

Farmers are facing increasing pressure to provide sufficient and nutritious food for a growing population, to cope with climate change and the degradation of natural resources.

The two agencies are coordinating their advocacy and development initiatives in the region to strengthen farmers’ organizations to ensure that actions reach the grass roots level. These actions will contribute significantly to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eradicating poverty and hunger.