Family farming and smallholders play an essential role in food production, sustaining rural economies and stewardship of biodiversity. Yet numerous circumstances, often beyond their control, mean many are very poor, disadvantaged, and have insufficient access to resources and support.
Organic agriculture and other agro- ecological models provide solutions to the many challenges faced by family farming and smallholder agriculture. All over the world millions of organic farmers successfully prac- tice these solutions and are proof of how viable and effective they are.
Expensive and short-term solutions proposed by conventional agriculture can worsen both the social and economic problems of smallholder farmers. Many farmers are forced to purchase expensive inputs that often push them into a cycle of debt. Beyond the financial implications, these inputs also pollute the environment, destroy biodiversity, and degrade the nutritional quality of our food.
What we need is a family and smallholder friendly farming system. An agro-ecological science-based system that relies on local inputs and transparent value chains.
Organic agriculture based on the scientific discipline of agro-ecology is the most appropriate way to achieve ecological, agronomic and socio-economic intensification of family farming and smallholder agriculture. It also provides healthy and nutritious food for rural communities and city dwellers.
Organic farmers ensure that traditions are kept alive and facilitate marketplace success by sharing experiences and developing new farming methods. Together, organic smallholders can strengthen social structures, develop innovative networks and promote entrepreneurship. The impact of which includes more job opportunities, a stronger local value chain and improved rural development.
IFOAM calls for improved local, national and international policies to promote sustainable organic family and smallholder systems and businesses.
IFOAM therefore urges local, regional and national authorities, as well as donor agencies and multinational organizations, to accelerate their efforts in promoting Organic Agriculture as a system to empower family and smallholder producers and help them become more resilient, productive and profitable.