“Land tenure is fundamental to food security,” says Luc Maene, Chairman of the International Agri-Food Network, “[and] fair, transparent rules benefit everyone.” According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), two billion smallholder farmers can barely afford global food prices and survive on subsistence farming. In a statement given at the Global Land Grabbing II Conference at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY on October 19, 2012, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva explained that many marginalized subsistence farmers are forced off of their land, or onto less desirable land, by large land owners or corporations. This significantly threatens their livelihood and autonomy.
In May 2012, the FAO passed the internationally groundbreaking Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land. The goal of these guidelines is to promote food security by ensuring more responsible practices and policies for accessing land, fisheries and forests. In a FAO article, Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said that this new “shared vision” will help improve opportunities for the world’s poor. Drafted through a participatory process involving international organizations, representatives from the private sector, and government officials, the guidelines address a breadth of topics including gender equality and transparency.
This focus on land rights is a major step toward supporting smallholder farmers across the world.