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The State of Food and Agriculture 2014

Innovation in Family Farming

image of The State of Food and Agriculture 2014

More than 500 million family farms manage the majority of the world’s agricultural land and produce most of the world’s food. We need family farms to ensure global food security, to care for and protect the natural environment and to end poverty, undernourishment and malnutrition. But these goals can be thoroughly achieved if public policies support family farms to become more productive and sustainable. This edition of the The State of Food and Agriculture analyses family farms and the role of innovation in ensuring global food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. It argues that family farms must be supported to innovate in ways that promote sustainable intensification of production and improvements in rural livelihoods. Innovation is a process through which farmers improve their production and farm management practices.

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Agricultural extension and advisory services for family farms

Agricultural extension and advisory services are central to achieving sustainable productivity growth among family farms. By facilitating farmers’ access to information, such services can help reduce the gap between potential and actual yields and improve farmers’ management skills (Anderson and Feder, 2007). They can help agriculture become an engine of pro-poor growth and equip small family farms to meet new challenges, including access to markets, adoption of environmentally sustainable production methods, and responses to climate change (Birner et al., 2009). However, far too many family farms do not have regular access to extension services.

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