Nirmala Katuwal Chettri and Anjali Shrestha
Student | Agriculture and Forestry University
With the beginning of human existence, gradually farming was all about what people had to do for survival. And today is also the same but the way of farming has been changed. As the time passed on, human found alternative source of livelihood. Some are involved in education sector, some industrial services and others. Now only few are left behind. For this reason the commercial agriculture began to meet demand of all. With the discoveries and advancement in science and technology the world is being urbanized and people want to engage in other sector rather than agriculture. Although the trend of agriculture is being transformed into commercialization from subsistence type globally but family farming still survives hugely in our country as an option of livelihood of more than 83% of population living in rural areas.
Family farming is a means of organizing agriculture, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and production which is managed and operated by family and predominantly reliant on family labor. Family farming involves all the family based agricultural activities and it’s directly linked to rural development and it is predominant form of agriculture in food and production sector too. Sustainable food security involves strengthening the livelihood security of all members within a household by ensuring both physical and economical access to the balance diet including the needed micronutrient, environmental sanitation, safe drinking water, basic health care and primary education. In such case family farming can play a vital role to meet food security. It equally assists on conservation of agro biodiversity using agro biological resources and traditional knowledge based farming system. It provides nutritious and balance diet to the family that makes farm family healthy and strong.
Family farming offers an effective and economic solution to meet the challenges making sure that every person had has access not just to calories but to nutritious food. Beside nutrition supply and food security, it is good source of income. In addition it contributes to retain socio cultural identities and also reduce environmental pollution and soil erosion. It usually adopts organic method of farming which insists on maximum utilization of locally available resources. Family farming links agriculture and food with wider issue gender, migration and environment. Family farming is not only the source of food, fodder, fuel, medicine, spices herbs flowers construction materials and income but it is also important for in-situ conservation of wide range of unique genetic resources for food and agriculture. Family farmers are the custodians of biodiversity, a key asset for sustaining their livelihood. They are intrinsically linked to their society communities and landscapes, transmitting their knowledge skills, practices and technologies from one generation to another generation. This plays a major role in use and conservation of our natural resources. Thus family farming is much broader issue than just providing food.
With the commercialization in agriculture, agricultural products are quantitatively more but unfortunately they are not of good quality. With a motive to supply more so as to fulfill the demand of consumers, producers have become totally unconscious about health of consumers here in our country. A laboratory test conducted at Kalimati fruits and vegetable market –the largest center of vegetables in the Kathmandu Valley, by Ministry of Agriculture Development (MOAD) had found that most sought-after vegetables and fruits supplied to valley contained over 90 % pesticide residue while the acceptable limit is only 35%. Through the investigation the fact has been revealed that the level of toxicity in the vegetables available in market is in such a level that our body cannot withstand. It is sad to hear such news but this is the bitter truth. Despite knowing that such vegetables are harmful for their health, people urban areas have been forced to buy the vegetables which contain abundant pesticide residues due to lack of availability of organic vegetables. Most of them have such view “If you eat vegetables which contain pesticides residues, you will die of food poison. And if you do not eat, you will die of hunger. Pesticides-free vegetables and fruits are not easily available as their production is very low. If we continue to consume inorganic vegetables, certainly our country is going to have a large number of ill and inactive people in the future. Hazardous use of chemicals in the name of increasing quantity production is not the only solution to fulfill the demand of consumers. But this condition is prevailing in urban areas. On the other hand the ever encroaching crush of urbanization is being a major cause for disappearance.
After being a major way of livelihood family farming is in the phase of declination and extinction in rural areas as youth with the zeal of earning money fly abroad leaving behind the old aged parents and children at home. They have the notion that farming is not prestigious occupation. Agricultural land is being turned into marginal land these days. Rural people also spend remittance to buy food from market as their enthusiasm on farming has declined. And a great tragic is that the food in market are unhygienic. There are many cases of chronic health disorders due to consumption of poisonous vegetables. Hence the concept of family faming is emerging nowadays and its importance is being realized greatly.
Along with huge importance of family farming, farmers are particularly vulnerable to risks from diseases pest drought flood unpredictable rainfall and other external shocks including those induced by climate change. There is lack of policies, innovation, practices that support family farming. There is necessity of ways to address the need of family farming with a new approach new technology combined with indigenous knowledge of farmers.
Photo Credit: Tanka Khatri