————- sheep.” Family Farming in the mountains is deeply

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dubbed
“the world’s cutest sheep”, the Valaisan
Blacknose sheep are bred in Valais region where they are adored for their
“black hole” faces, shaggy coats and spiral horns. This unique breed is fashionable
livestock farming in Europe. On a family farm in Scotland, the farmer said: “I
think they are the world’s cutest sheep.”

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Family Farming in the mountains is deeply rooted in Valaisan
culture and has more recently adopted means of self-help in exchange offering
lodging to travelers. In a barter exchange of visitors’ services to the farmer
– a helping hand in farming activities or herding livestock, the visitor would
earn overnight stays in traditional Swiss chalet. The farmer thus saves on
labor cost and the visitor is happy making a saving on cost of lodging. Located
in the eastern French speaking region of Valais, in Nendaz – orchards and vineyards
are small, family run businesses. The Country of Bisses (a system of irrigation
channels) and nearby valleys are world renowned for delicious grapes, apricots,
strawberries and raspberries.

Lessons can be learnt from Switzerland Family Farming on a
self-help basis since time immemorial. In Valais – the French and German speaking mountainous Southwest
region of Switzerland, most of the mountain farming at a varying
high altitude with extremely patchy landscape, thus limits use of modern
farming methods. Family Farm is the only option to an efficient and effective
method of farming, ensuring house hold security.

 

 Self Help Family Farming

 

The unrest in the Swat Valleys in Pakistan not only had the
tourism crashing nose dive but also shattered the once prosperous family run
trout farms in Madyan and Kalam valleys – valued at around Rs. 44 million. The
local family farms had lost all hopes however, with
support from the Provincial
Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority (PRRSA) and Early Recovery of Agriculture and Livelihood Program (ERALP)
supported by the Italian government (February 2010); trout farms produced about
184 tons trout (2013) and according to reports, Swat valleys has now some 22
trout farms.

 

Revival
of Family (Trout) Farms in Swat valley, Pakistan.

 

The Neelum-Jhelum
Valleys Community Development Project has set up an example by planting
nearly 12,000 hectares that resulted in an improved crop yields and doubling
the average household income of the project’s participants. The project’s main
objectives were to promote environmental conservation and community
participation in resource development in response to deforestation, erosion,
and overgrazing.

 

Micro Finance: Since the 1990’s, small
farmers with no land and also people with no capital had the possibility of
acquiring small loans through Punjab Rural Support Program’s (PRSP) Micro-Credit Scheme, aimed at improve
living condition of people living below the poverty line. Micro Finance helped
small Farmers to access techniques to yield sufficient production and purchase
of better quality seeds and fertilizers. Research studies indicate that Micro
Financing has substantially increased agricultural production and crop
productivity.  

 

The International Fund of Agricultural Development
operation, Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project, is working to benefit
an estimated 8.6 million rural residents in several districts of Pakistan and there
are proposed projects in the pipeline that will support small farmers in
Pakistan. “The project can assist casual laborers without landholdings,
smallholder farmers, and independent woman-headed households in increasing
their incomes by supporting agricultural productivity and production, and by
increasing the overall employment potential of this targeted population”. For
the success of family Farming in Pakistan, it is essential that donors like
Agha Khan Rural Support Program, Agriculture Development Bank, non-profit organizations,
and governments focus their attention on family farmers and invest in programs
and infrastructure essential to production growth.

Pakistan hosts some 3.8 million small family farms constituting about 43.4% of total farm area, with landholdings measuring less than two
hectares. The country that show an
estimated 17 million people food-insecure and according to the World
Bank, 27 per cent of the rural population of Pakistan live under the national
rural poverty line; there is an
urgent need to support Family Farming and development of infrastructure.

 

-Creating
alternative sources of income for smallholder farmers

-Promoting
research and advice on new technologies adapted to the needs of smallholders
and family farms

-Improving
storage and processing of agricultural products to reduce postharvest losses

-Ensuring better
access for women and young people to means of production

-Improving
access to services, particularly for women small farmers, to realize their
untapped potential

-Strengthening
farmers’ organizations to enable them to offer their members better services
and to voice their concerns more effectively in the political arena

-Securing access
to natural resources such as land and water

-Establishing a
regulatory international framework that supports smallholder farming (including
seed regulations and international trade rules)

 

The
SDC’s activities are focused on the following areas:

 

-Using
seeds to guarantee food security and preserve biodiversity

-Multifaceted support

-More rice with less waste

-Microcredit:
a way to ensure access to water and to generate revenues

-Increasing the revenue of rural households

-Plant
clinics and doctors to reduce crop losses

-Changing
course in global agriculture: Nourish our People – Nurture our Planet

-Irrigation for
family farms

 

Some
of the projects, as follows, show the SDC’s work to support smallholders and
family farms in developing countries:

 

To
mark the IYFF – national committees are being set up. These are composed of
agriculture and development cooperation representatives, one such committee
with an observer status is the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC),
which has been established in Switzerland. The SDC helps smallholders
and family farms to adapt to change and to boost production in a sustainable
way.

Family Farming or Family Agriculture comprises women (almost
half of agriculture labour-force), and men farmers, gatherers, landless peasants,
indigenous people, artisan fishers (some 357 million people depend directly on
small-scale fisheries, employs over 90% of the World’s fishing catch) and
pastoralists (cover about 25% of the earth’s terrestrial surface and supports
20 million households) – involved in agricultural, forestry, aquaculture,
fisheries and pastoral  production which
is managed in smallhold areas under 10 hectare and operated by a family and
primarily dependent on non-wage family labor and responsible for everything –
from production to farm maintenance. The family and the farm are “linked,
co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, reproductive, social and
cultural functions”.

 

According to Ose
Antonio Osaba Garcia – coordinator of the IYFF, “We have pushed for this year
to honor family farmers. So the year (2014) is centered on dialogue in favor of
family farming as the real model for sustainable agriculture.”

While industrial agriculture practices tend to be extremely resource-intensive
and can damage the environment (70 per cent of global water use goes to
farming, and soil is being eroded between 10 and 40 times faster than it’s
being replenished); family farms feeds the world and
yet produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than industrial farms.

The
main objective of the IYFF is to raise the profile of smallholders and family
farms by focusing world attention on their role in alleviating hunger and
poverty and improving conditions for smallholders and family farms. Supporting the success of family farms will result in increased incomes
of family farmers and thus a significant rise in overall living standard.

 

According to a research study from Oxfam, investing
in small farmers also creates a ‘multiplier’ effect that extends beyond the
farming sector — farmers spend a big share of their income in other sectors,
including construction, infrastructure, and manufacturing.

To further enhance support the culture of Family
Farming, the United Nations declare 2014 the International Year of Family
Farming (IYFF). About 40% of World Households depend on Family farming and
70% of World Food Supply is produced by family farmers. So, out of the 3,000 million rural people in developing countries, 2,500
belong to families engaged in Family Farming.

Walking
along the terraced fields in the Northern areas of Pakistan, mostly women folk
can be seen farming – with their children playing around; I had little
understanding and had thought they are employed in the industrial agricultural
practice. I was actually looking at smallholder
farmers, well aware of their landscapes and local climates, and with endurable
support, they help to transform the food system using sustainable methods that
can boost productivity or just self sufficient in their need for daily food
consumption. Today, these small farmers are better informed to use traditional
knowledge and techniques to rely less on scarce natural resources.