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FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

3 Successful Practices for Successful Policies. The case of Ecuador

The world food crisis of 2007-2008 and the persistence of highly volatile food prices call for a review of the role of family farming. There is consensus among analysts that food prices will stay high and volatile in the future; and, in this situation, family farming, especially traditional crop growing, provide major opportunities for increasing and diversifying agricultural production both locally and nationally, thus helping to reduce the vulnerability of Andean countries to price and climate shocks.

Nonetheless, strengthening family-farm production requires differentiated policies and programmes to bring to its full potential the incredibly rich productive, organizational, ecological, and social cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of the high Andes.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is committed to work with governments to strengthen small-scale farmers' production systems, enhance their food security, and promote rural development in vulnerable zones, such as those in which the FORSANDINO project has operated over the last four years.

Despite the harsh conditions in which these communities live, the results achieved are a source of enormous satisfaction. The reasons for success are varied, but in particular they include a major articulation of efforts that harnessed different desires and harmonized public programmes, NGOs, universities and research institutions to work together in pursuit of a common goal: to improve conditions of life in the communities.

The crisis has taught an important lesson, namely the importance of strengthening social protection networks and supporting food production, especially through family farming. Four years after the start of the FORSANDINO project, we also know rather more about how to increase and improve the output of high Andean zones. We can apply what has been learnt, by working in conjunction with local, regional and national governments, NGOs, universities, and so forth, and thus improve the food security of one of the most vulnerable population groups in the region: high-Andean peoples. The priority for FAO is to continue the daily struggle to achieve food security for all; and it is through experiences like this that we strengthen our commitment to eradicate one of humanity's greatest scourges: hunger.

Alan Bojanic
Officer in Charge of the FAO Regional Office
for Latin America and the Caribbean

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