World: The Latin America and Caribbean Advantage: Family farming – a critical success factor for resilient food security and nutrition

Latin America


The region of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has made great strides in reducing hunger and poverty thanks to a positive macroeconomic environment and policies favouring the most vulnerable families. Today, however, the region is seeing an economic slowdown and there has been an increase in poverty over recent years (FAO, 2018a). Hunger, poverty and lack of opportunities in LAC remain concentrated in rural areas, among small-scale farmers and especially among indigenous peoples, women and youth. While 26 per cent of the region’s urban population is poor, 46 per cent of the region’s rural population lives under the poverty line – almost double. This has been the case since at least the beginning of the 1990s (ECLAC, 2019a). LAC is facing a rapid and profound process of rural transformation and a major challenge is to make this transformation inclusive and tackle growing inequality (IFAD, 2016a).1 Worryingly, the landmark report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 highlights that, after years of improvement, food insecurity and malnourishment are on the rise (FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO, 2019). Around 188 million people suffered from food insecurity in 2018, of whom 55 million suffered from severe food insecurity. The poor rural people often bear the brunt of the malnutrition and poverty burden, but with the right support the region’s 60 million family farmers can be the key to improving outcomes in these areas. These are the women and men whom IFAD targets to make the ambitious goals of Agenda 2030 a reality.
This report presents IFAD’s experience in contributing to global goals in poverty and hunger eradication, social inclusion and environmental sustainability, and climate change adaptation and mitigation, through investments and policy engagement in LAC. This regional report in IFAD’s Advantage series reflects IFAD’s commitment to bringing investments closer to countries and reaching the most vulnerable, with a focus on women, youth and indigenous peoples. The challenges faced by the region suggest that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a massive but critical undertaking that cannot be achieved without investing in rural development and in the most vulnerable people. IFAD believes that inclusive and sustainable rural transformation cannot happen without women, men, young people and indigenous peoples as change agents as well as partners on the ground.
Indeed, IFAD is going further than mainstreaming individual issues and aiming for much greater “transformational” synergy between the integration of climate change, nutrition and women’s and youth empowerment for holistic programming that leverages their synergies and minimizes trade-offs and risks. One without the other is a recipe for short-term benefits only, but by investing across all mainstreaming areas we are truly laying the ground for long-term sustainable returns.
By 2021, the LAC region aims to have mainstreamed environmental sustainability and climate in 100 per cent of projects. Moreover, 25 per cent of funding for investments is to be climate-focused, 25 per cent of projects are to be gender-transformative, 50 per cent of projects are to be nutrition-sensitive and 50 per cent of projects are to mainstream youth. These ambitious targets are framed by Agenda 2030, and IFAD is reaching out to partners, including family farmers themselves, to help achieve the potential of this region.
In this report, the introduction summarizes key issues faced by family farmers in LAC, with a focus on IFAD’s mainstreaming themes of climate change and the environment, nutrition, gender equality and youth empowerment, and indigenous peoples. It gives an overview of IFAD-supported actions in the region in relation to these themes. Four case studies give concrete examples of how IFAD is adopting an increasingly integrated approach to support smallholders, and the final section looks ahead towards achieving targets in IFAD’s Eleventh Replenishment period (IFAD11) and beyond.

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