Family farms, an instrument to fight rural poverty

28 January 2019 // Karessa Ramos
Fundación Microfinanzas BBVA

“It is not easy for small farmers to find the capital they need for the business to prosper and for the harvest to be a good one,” points out María Orellana. As she describes her situation, this female farmer served by the BBVAMF in Chile also paints a picture of the reality faced by many small farmers like her, in Latin America and other parts of the world.

Farming nowadays has a limited share in modern economies and, as a result, technology, financing and other resources have been re-routed to other sectors, considered “more important”, such as services and industry. However, data tells another story: small family farms are, in fact, the main players in the battle against hunger, malnutrition, poverty, the depletion of natural resources and the effects of climate change.

Because of this, the UN General Assembly has declared the period from 2019 to 2028 as the United Nations Decade for Family Farming. This gives continuity to the success of the International Year of Family Farming, marked in 2014, and reinforced by SDG 2 in its 2030 Agenda. With this resolution, United Nations calls on all States to draw up, improve and enforce their public policies on family farming and to share their experiences and best practices in the area.

This goal is shared by the BBVA Microfinance Foundation in its commitment to reduce poverty, offering financial products and services and training to entrepreneurs under vulnerable conditions. It is particularly engaged with those living in rural areas where poverty rates and financial exclusion are higher. That is why the Foundation is creating opportunities where others do not reach by leveraging technology and digital innovation that enable them to prosper.

1. It brings progress to rural households

Farming is the main source of income in rural households, and an alternative in combating lack of jobs, even youth unemployment.

2. It contributes to environmental sustainability

Supporting the efforts of family farmers stimulates the protection of natural resources, because small farmers depend on them for livelihood. Furthermore, farming allows the preseservation of the historic, cultural and natural heritage, as well as improving the lives of those who live in rural areas.

3. Women are key in the rural economy

Despite the role and contribution made by female farmers, in many parts of the world they continue to be invisible workers. Giving them visibility in society, in the economy and in politics requires that they receive support in their activities, and for their situation and needs to be considered.

4. Consequences of fishing activities

The UN recognizes the scope of small-scale fishing and has restated the importance of this sector in creating local economic activities and in protecting bodies of water (seas, rivers, lakes, etc.…) from climate change and other adversities.

5. Resilience of vulnerable rural communities

Aside from the social and economic barriers facing rural communities, they are also more exposed to natural disasters and armed conflicts. Supporting them will increase their resilience to these circumstances, which are generally unpredictable.