Our award-winning reporting has moved

Context provides news and analysis on three of the world’s most critical issues:

climate change, the impact of technology on society, and inclusive economies.

10 Organizations that Support Family Farming

by Olivia Delia | @Food_Tank | Food Tank
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 21:23 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

These 10 organizations, projects, and communities are doing exceptional work to support family farmers in feeding the world and protecting the planet. 

1. The Institute for Sustainable Development

Dr. Tewolde Gebre Berhan Egziabher and Sue Edwards established the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) in 1996. ISD’s work is concentrated in Ethiopia, where the best of traditional agricultural practices and modern techniques are combined to enable communities to craft sustainable development solutions. Starting in 2005, in a district of 160,000 in North West Ethiopia, ISD team member and Ethiopian Fassil Gebeyahu facilitated compost-making workshops benefitting almost 25,000 households; helped implement water capture which increased clean water coverage from 0 to over 40 percent; and aided in the revival of beekeeping “as a traditional livelihood option," nearly tripling the number of hives in the region from 2344 to 6893 by 2007.

2. More and Better

More and Better is “an international network for support of food, agriculture and rural development to eradicate hunger and poverty.” Established in 2003, More and Better unites members of developing countries to play a leading role in defining what “more and better” support looks like within each national context. These members increase the level and quality of support for agriculture and rural development from the national governments. At the international level, More and Better exchanges information on these campaigns, and provides a platform for sharing progress.

3. La Via Campesina

La Via Campesina (LVC) is an international movement comprised of small farmers and indigenous people whose way of life has been disrupted by the impact of large-scale agriculture. LVC is made up of over 160 local and national organizations in 73 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, representing about 200 million farmers worldwide. The movement was founded by a group of farmers’ representatives in 1993 and is a recognized actor in agricultural debates, heard by institutions such as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the U.N. Human Rights Council. The coalition strives to enable food sovereignty, or “the right of the peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods; and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” As a member of the IYFF International Steering Committee, it defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity while feeding the world.

4. Fight Hunger Foundation, India

The Fight Hunger Foundation (FHF) conducts field action, educational programs, and research in three states across India—Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan—to prevent, detect, and treat malnutrition in a country where, according to UNICEF, approximately 47 percent of children are underweight. This year, FHF partnered with ACF India and the Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultant Society to extend their Integrated Nutrition Treatment project to 50 new villages in Madhya Pradesh. The project goal is to address the immediate causes of underlying malnutrition, specifically among children under five years and pregnant or lactating mothers. FHF aims to reach 310,000 beneficiaries in 2014-2015.

5. World Rural Forum Association

A sponsor of the IYFF International Steering Committee, the World Rural Forum (WRF) arose out of the First International Congress on Trade and Rural Development in 1988, where one notable outcome was the unofficial Vitoria-Gasteiz Declaration to stand for “a globalization which is compatible with rural development." The self-described WRF “network of networks” spans five continents, and partners with universities, centers for research, farmers’ associations, and NGOs to assess the challenges confronted by the farmers—and all citizens—of rural areas. WRF is invested in crafting solutions to the problems faced by rural regions. On an international level, it serves as a lobby and advocate to articulate the needs of rural areas to political authorities.

6. World Farmers’ Organization

The World Farmers’ Organization (WFO) is an international alliance “of Farmers for Farmers,” comprised of over 65 member organizations and 15 partnering groups—including the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the FAO—united by their commitment to encourage economic, social, and environmental vitality amongst rural populations. A member of the International Steering Committee of IYFF, WFO represents rural farmers in global policy forums such that their rights, needs, and issues can be addressed. WFO conducts research, publishes case studies, and releases policy documents and recommendations on climate change, contract farming, food security, value chain, trade, and women in agriculture. At the October 28th Global Dialogue on Family Farming, a WFO delegation met with José Graziano de Silva, Director-General of the FAO, to recognize the accomplishments thus far of the IYFF and continue championing family farming in 2015. 

7. International Fund for Agricultural Development

A specialized agency of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was founded in 1977 as a result of the 1974 World Food Conference—an event organized in response to the food crises then plaguing the belt of Sahelian countries in Africa. Since then, IFAD has financed agricultural development projects worldwide, and recent projects include a program in Djibouti to reduce vulnerability to climate change and poverty in coastal rural communities; a food and nutrition security and market linkage program in Southern Laos; and the Inclusive Rural Economic and Climate Resilience Programme in the Republic of Moldova. IFAD believes that “smallholder and family farmers can and should be at the forefront of the transformation of world agriculture,” and this year has called upon national and global policymakers to render family farming a more economically secure livelihood and incentivize farmers' sustainable use of natural resources.

8. World Food Programme

The world’s largest humanitarian agency devoted to fighting hunger, the World Food Programme (WFP) was founded in 1961 as a part of the United Nations system. It pursues “a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life,” and delivers food during and following emergency situations to over 80 million people in 75 countries—with the goal of ultimately increasing food security such that the need for food aid is eliminated. Along with FAO and IFAD, WFP is based in Rome, and for the past year has served on the IYFF International Steering Committee. Currently, WFP is coordinating responses to five large-scale emergencies in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, and the regions of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone affected by Ebola. WFP is committed to providing food to those with the least access to food due to emergency situations, whether due to humanitarian crises, disease, or natural disasters.

9. International Co-operative Alliance

Established in 1895 in London, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is one of the sole international organizations to survive both the First and Second World Wars, and today continues to play a leading role in raising awareness about cooperatives and their economic and social value. The Alliance shares practices, provides technical assistance, and promotes capacity building within the global cooperative movement, while also aiding its members to lobby for policies that allow the cooperative model to thrive. The ICA is a member of the International Steering Committee of the IYFF; it asserts that co-operative enterprises allow family farmers to “develop social infrastructures based on ethical principles such as democracy, gender equality, and concern for the community and the environment,” and has formed a partnership with FAO on these issues for the advancement of co-ops. In 2011, the ICA launched the Global Development Co-operative to support co-ops in developing countries by raising US$50 million to be made available as low-interest loans.

10. Bioversity International

Enter the Bioversity International homepage, and you are greeted by its statement of purpose: to realize a vision where “agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet.” This past June, Bioversity International celebrated its 40th year and reflected on the evolution, from its beginnings as a coordinator of crop gene preservation in genebanks, to its current role as an international leader in delivering “scientific evidence, management practices, and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural biodiversity.” Also a member of the International Steering Committee of the IYFF, Bioversity is committed to the preservation of agricultural biodiversity as an avenue to achieving sustainable global food and nutrition security. Their research acknowledges the role of gender in agriculture, and specifically women’s contribution to household nutrition through participation in household decision-making. This year it published the Bioversity International 10-year strategy 2014-2024.