Asia-Pacific countries reach consensus for greater support for millions of small-holder family farms

Zero Hunger Challenge gains momentum in countries of Asia and the Pacific.


A high level meeting to support family farming and small holder farmers in Asia

A high level meeting on family farming and small holder farmers in Asia and the Pacific has concluded with a consensus for greater support for millions of family and small-holder farmers across the region, who constitute more than 80 percent of total farmers, and renewed efforts to eradicate hunger and under-nutrition, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced.Family and small holder farms are the backbone of agricultural outputs in Asia and the Pacific, producing the vast majority of the region’s food supply.

FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative Hiroyuki Konuma, informed the Chennai gathering about Timor- Leste’s launch of a national Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC). Timor- Leste has now formed a ZHC national committee to direct and oversee activities. Indeed, the country has allocated 10 percent of its national budget to implement the ZHC. India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Viet Nam have also expressed strong interest in launching their own national Zero Hunger Challenges, Konuma said.

Konuma, who also chairs the UN regional thematic working group on poverty and hunger, pointed out that while gains had been made in decreasing hunger in many countries across the region, the real goal is to eradicate hunger in the remaining 12 percent of the region’s vulnerable population. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry and undernourished live in Asia and the Pacific.

Zero Hunger Challenge

The Zero hunger Challenge, a UN programme launched in 2012, takes its starting point the belief that hunger can be eliminated in our times – more specifically, by the year 2025.According to UN calculations, this will have been achieved when the world’s whole population has access to adequate food all year around; when there are no stunted children less than two years of age; when small holders productivity and income has doubled; when all food systems are sustainable; and when there is zero loss or waste of food.

“Development of nutrient-rich crops through biofortification are critical to eradicate hunger” says Prof. Swaminathan. The major approaches of the biofortification route suggested by Professor include use of (1) Naturally occurring biofortified plants like moringa, sweet potato, nutrimillets and fruits and vegetables (2) Biofortified varieties selected by breeding and selection, eg, iron-rich pearl millet and zinc-rich rice. Genetically biofortified crops like Golden Rice and iron-rich rice (after appropriate regulatory clearance).

The meeting was attended by nearly 350 participants, including seven government ministers and deputy ministers, representatives of civil society and academic institutions.

A Chennai Declaration was presented to the meeting by Professor M S Swaminathan and generally endorsed by the delegations with some comments for further adjustments. The declaration, “a new deal” for small family farms, recognizes the important role played by family farmers and small-holder farmers in ensuring food security, and their need for better support, protection and empowerment.

In his closing remarks, Konuma stressed the importance of creating national mechanisms to follow up on activities supporting the International Year of Family Farming to ensure strong, concerted, multi-stakeholder efforts to support small holder resource-poor farmers at the country level.

Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities, and it is linked to several areas of the 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 labour, including both women’s and men’s. It also has an important socio-economic, environmental and cultural role.


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