Today is World Food Day, the day when people around the world celebrate the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The FAO was established on 16th October 1945 to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and to achieve food security for all. The organisation has since been at the forefront of promoting the sustainability of food production methods, the reduction of rural poverty and the struggle against the effects of natural disasters, disease and illegal and unregulated practices.
This year’s World Food Day focuses on family farming. This is farming owned and run by family units which are predominantly reliant on family labour. The benefits of this type of farming is clear – family farming not only preserves traditional products (often those which the farm has produced for many years) but in doing so promotes a healthy, balanced diet. This type of farming also offers benefits in the form of protecting biodiversity and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources. Protecting such farmers also offers the opportunity to boost local economies.
What is more surprising is how many family farms there are around the world, and how significantly they contribute to the planet’s overall food production. For example, did you know that 83% of the US’ farmland is worked by family farmers? Or that most of the world’s rice is produced by family farms and that 3.5 billion people are dependent on this food source?
Whilst World Food Day 2014 is celebrating family farms, it does not stop there. The FAO has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. During the year, it aims to increase public awareness of family farming and help national governments to place family farming at the centre of the development of environmental, agricultural and social policies, in order to promote sustainable farming.
World Food Day presents many teaching opportunities. Geography students could consider the effect of climate change on family farmers, whilst food technology students could explore the role of the family farmer within the global food industry. There are also opportunities for politics, science and economics/business studies students to study the pressures on this type of farming.