Celebrating family farmers on World Food Day 2014

Family farmer livelihoods have been strenghened by the Newcastle disease vaccine. (Photo: R Alders)
Thursday, 16 October 2014

Happy World Food Day 2014! This year’s theme is Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth. Today we are celebrating the important role of family farmers around the world who feed their families, communities and us. They play a vital role in global food security, yet it is farming families who are often on the front lines of hunger.

Just last month the FAO released the 2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World. There are still 805 million people, or one in nine, who suffer from hunger. While this is a startling figure, we are seeing progress; the number has reduced by more than 100 million over the last decade. We are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015.

Food is one of humankind’s most fundamental needs — and is a basic human right. The only acceptable number of hungry people is zero.

The Food Security Centre is focused on meeting the challenge of ending hunger and improving food and nutrition security. Our projects are focused on working with partners to develop technologies, practices, inputs such as improved plant varieties and a supportive institutional environmental to improve food and nutrition security in eastern and southern Africa. Our special focus is on understanding adoption – how farmers make decisions about adopting these new technologies and practices.

We are delighted today that the Foreign Minister has launched an addition to our projects – a new demand-led plant breeding project for Africa. The project aims to ensure that new crop varieties better meet the needs of African smallholders and their customers. The official launch took place at the World Food Prize event in Iowa, USA. Read more about the launch in our press release.

The project is a major piece of work for the Alliance for Agricultural R&D for Food Security our partnership with the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) and the Crawford Fund. The project is being led by University of Queensland Global Change Institute. At the official launch SFSA Director Dr Marco Ferroni emphasised: “Progressing research and breeding results through to millions of smallholder farmers is essential. Today, plant science often fails to create impact at scale. However, solutions are within reach, and the private sector plays a central role.” Read more about the project.

We’re also making progress building plant biosecurity capacity in eastern Africa. The Australia Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership is about to reach another milestone with the upcoming prioritisation workshop in Nairobi on 27 & 28 October. Our two-year $0.8m Plant Biosecurity Capacity Development Initiative aims to build individual and institutional capacity in partner African countries to address significant regional plant pest and disease issues that not only impact on crop production, but can seriously undermine intra-regional and international trade of African crops. Read more news about the project.

Check out our blog to celebrate World Food Day - Family farming feeding the world: World Food Day 2014.