SAN JOSE – Family farms are crucial for the well-being, growth and food security of Latin America’s people, and the region should appreciate its importance and understand its challenges, experts said during a “Family Agriculture and Youth” workshop.
During the forum, organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, or IICA, researchers highlighted the role family farming plays in countries’ development.
Mexican agriculture researcher Cassio Luiselli said family agriculture was “an essential component” in efforts to eradicate poverty and inequality in the region.
“In the impoverished and marginal areas still common in Latin America, small family farms are critical to attain food security on a local level and to reduce poverty,” the expert said. “Those are areas that are usually isolated, with bad roads and precarious infrastructure.”
Luiselli said there were some 500 million small farms around the world feeding more than 2 billion people, and almost 80 percent of farming operations in Latin America may be considered family agriculture.
The expert warned, however, that statistical averages in the region “hide deep differences and alarming gaps persist” in Latin America between rich and poor farmers.
IICA director Victor Villalobos, also from Mexico, pointed to the need to change current trends and innovate to “create a more efficient and competitive paradigm that must be, above all, more inclusive.”
“Agriculture should provide incentives for young people to stay in their communities,” Villalobos said. “We need to teach our youth to love the farm.”
IICA data show that almost 23 million young Latin Americans in rural areas are affected by lower levels of schooling and quality in training.
Only 18 percent of young Latin Americans in rural areas attain a college education, while migration to cities continues.