FAMILY FARMERS: DRIVERS OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Family farming which is very popular in Nigeria and generally in Africa refers to all family-based agricultural activities which are linked to several areas of rural development. Family farming is a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labor, including both women’s and men’s. Around the world, there are over 500 million family farms and these farms are responsible for at least 56% of agricultural production of global food. In Africa, 62 percent of the world’s farming land is worked on by family farmers. These statistics provided by FAO clearly shows that maximal attention and investment must be made on these set of farmers if the goal for food security and zero hunger in Africa and Nigeria particularly, will be achieved.

Since family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector, family farmers are inextricably linkages to national and global food security. Simply put, family farmers are responsible for ensuring available, accessible and affordable food around the world. Through the combination of their traditional farming techniques and modern technological inputs, they are able to optimize agricultural efforts. In the black continent, most family farmers are found in villages and rural environs.

To realize the full potential of these rural farmers in eradicating hunger and ensuring food security, initiatives to foster appropriate environment for their development is necessary. With limitations such as lack of recognition, lack of access to market, credit facilities, and technology and extension services; rural family farmers often underperform in their agricultural ventures. At a national level, one would argue that these limitations ought to be responded to urgently as Agriculture is rising to be one of major contributor to Nigeria’s GDP.

Family farmers are key drivers of sustainable agriculture because they help to tackle the tripod challenge of producing more food, creating more jobs and preserving the natural resource base of the country. As initiatives and policies from government and non-government outfits secure market, credit facilities, extension and technological services, improved farm inputs for family farmers, they are better equipped to change the landscape of national economy via agriculture. We must value them, respect them and invest in them!

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