Whether this necessary growth is feasible and sufficient will depend on the prevailing political and economic environment, and the ability of institutions to enable key factors such as the development and the application of appropriate agricultural techniques, the management of land and water access and the ability to maintain open markets, all in the context of ensuring the quality provision of public goods. Many countries have gone quite a way down this path, but the route is long. Regardless of the level of economic development, targeted policies supporting family farms around the world are crucial to ensuring food security, a resilient rural society and social stability.

The International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) showcases the added value of family farming: its social function (maintaining the vitality of rural areas), environmental benefits (such as maintaining landscapes and soil fertility for future generations) and its economic impact both in terms of food production and employment.

As family farms – of all sizes – look to survive and grow in the context of globalisation and a changing world, they face some perennial management challenges strongly associated with this particular kind of family business, including the need for modernisation and innovation on the farm, preparing for succession and encouraging future generations to get involved, and developing economic flexibility via farm-centred diversification and pluriactivity.