Beehives in Lekit, Azerbaijan.
21 December 2017, Rome – FAO welcomes the UN’s decision to create a decade on family farming, a World Bee Day, a day promoting awareness of the need to combat illegal fishing, and declare international years for camelids and artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.
From now on, May 20 will mark World Bee Day.
And 2019 will mark the beginning of the UN Decade of Family Farming, drawing more attention to the people who produce more than 80% of the world’s food but whose own members, paradoxically, are often the most vulnerable to hunger.
2024, meanwhile, will be the International Year of Camelids.
The UN General Assembly on Wednesday approved three new resolutions that task FAO with leading organizational and information-sharing roles.
Not only do pollinators, smallholders and camelids contribute directly to food security, but they are key levers for conserving biodiversity, another cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Earlier this month, the General Assembly had also proclaimed an international day to celebrate the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and an international year to promote artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.
“I welcome the UN member countries’ endorsement of these important food and agriculture issues. The observances starting next year will help raise global attention and momentum for the urgent push towards achieving Zero Hunger by 2030,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
World Bee Day
Bees and other pollinators – including butterflies, bats and hummingbirds – allow many plants, including many food crops, to reproduce.
May 20 has been chosen for the annual day as it is the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia – which led the push for the celebration – and praised the animal for its ability to work so hard while needing so little attention.
The honeybee in particular has been a workhorse, not only as a pollinator able to visit around 7,000 flowers a day but also as a provider of honey – coveted for millennia as food and medicine – and for offering livelihood opportunities requiring little capital or land ownership.
FAO has included training in beekeeping in multiple rural development projects from Azerbaijan to Niger and is leading the assembly of a data base on pollination services around the world.
Today, pollinators have an additional contribution to make to food security as they not only foster plant life but serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems. Invasive insects, pesticides, land-use change and monocropping practices that may reduce available nutrients all pose threats to bee colonies.
More than 90 percent of the 570 million farms worldwide are managed by an individual or a family and rely primarily on family labour. These farms produce more than 80 percent of the world’s food in value terms, confirming their central importance in world food security today and in for future generations. At the same time, most of the rural poor are family farmers.
The Sustainable Development Goals are characterized bya strong focus on smallholder and family farmers, targeting, by 2030, to double their agricultural productivity and incomes, in particular women, and including indigenous peoples, pastoralists and fishers.
Policy attention and investments must focus not only on increasing yields and incomes, but also on a more complex set of objectives, including securing rights over natural resources – such as land, water and seeds, enhancing inclusive markets, adapting to climate change, decent rural employment, appropriate risk-management tools and social protection programmes.
The resolution calls for FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development to support the implementation of the Decade, notes that more and more countries are making significant progress in developing public policies in favour of family farming, and praises the utility of information exchanges facilitated by the Family Farming Knowledge Platform hosted by FAO, as well as by South-South, triangular and farmer-to-farmer cooperation activities.
Camelids – ranging from alpacas and llamas to dromedary and Bactrian camels – are the primary means of subsistence for millions of poor families living in 90 countries and often in some of the most hostile ecosystems on the planet, making them an invaluable part of the fight against hunger.
They are a main source of protein, milk, fiber for clothes and also provide fertilizer and serve as pack and transport animals.
Camel milk has significant potential to improve rural income and nutrition, as it is rich in Vitamin C, iron and other key micronutrients. It is available even where there is a scarcity of water and forage.
UN also hails importance of fishing
The UN General Assembly also on 5 December approved two other observances, both related to fishing and unanimously supported by FAO’s member states and invited FAO to serve as lead agency for both. The annual resolution on sustainable fisheries had the General Assembly proclaiming 5 June as the “International Day for the Fight Against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing”.
The date reflects the day when the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) officially entered into force as an international treaty. FAO played the leading role in shepherding the PSMA, the first international treaty drafted in order to sharply curtail forms of illegal fishing that continues to pose a serious threat to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of such resources.
The UN also declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, which will help focus attention on the small-scale fishermen and women who comprise 90 percent of the world’s fisheries work force.