Conference Hears How Greater Support of Small-scale Farmers in Ireland and Across the Globe Vital to Food Security
Thursday 11th April 2019
Concrete and lasting support for small-scale food production is key to rebooting our flawed food system and tackling both runaway emissions and food poverty by 2030, a conference heard today.
The event in Croke Park - organised by Make Ireland Sustainable For All – brought together over 200 participants from across civil society and government bodies to highlight the need to support small-scale farmers as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
The 17 global goals are at the centre of the UN’s sustainable development agenda and seek to achieve over 150 targets aimed at the likes of ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring that we end all forms of malnutrition and hunger by 2030. 
The conference examined the challenges and opportunities for small-scale food producers locally and globally to ensure farming and food production is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and community supported.
One main thread of the day was the need to overhaul our current flawed food system that is influencing rising greenhouse gas emissions, declining biodiversity and food poverty across the global.
Today, the UN estimates that 821 million people are hungry, and every third person is malnourished, reflecting a food system out of balance. 
Speakers highlighted that small-scale food production provides a real alternative to the current model and outlined a need to rethink how we grow, share and consume food.
According to the FAO, about 90 per cent of the world’s 570 million farms are small- holders. While these are predominately found in the rural areas of the developing world, more and more in the West this model is looked upon as a sustainable food production and agricultural system. 
Using sustainable and organic agriculture bring multiple benefits to families, including more nutritious diets, health, alongside greater diversity of crops and protection of the natural environment.
Opening the Conference World Vision Ireland Chief Executive, Niall Mcloughlin said: “We are aware sustainable food and nutrition consumption is a very complex, emotive and often divisive issue.
“Through supporting small-scale farmers and food producers, we can go beyond producing more with less, to balance the focus to food quality and diversity, to link productivity to sustainability and address the needs of people, without jeopardising our planet.”
Green Party spokesperson for Agriculture and Food and an organic beef and sheep farmer, Pippa Hackett, also highlighted the importance of moving to more sustainable small-scale farming methods: “The bottom line is we are more sustainable. We are less reliant on expensive inputs, international markets, and we are having a positive effect on our local environment.
“We are farming closer to nature, we were protecting the water and soil on our farm, supporting biodiversity, and we are making more money. And it is less stressful, and more enjoyable.
“We are also providing nutrient dense food to people in our local community. Besides anything else, it brings with it a great sense of pride in our farm and what it produces."
Michael Ewing of the Irish Environmental Network said: “The 2030 Agenda provides us with a roadmap for a sustainable future. Small-scale food production is at the heart of this.
We know our business as usual approach is damaging our health, our soils and our environment, while farmers struggle to earn a decent crust. Now is the time for action.
Through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals we can ensure decent incomes for sustainable farmers, while supporting local communities and crucially, operating within planetary boundaries.
It is also an issue of intergenerational justice. This is a duty we must take on for the wellbeing of future generations. If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will pay the price.”
 This project - part of the EU wide ‘Make Europe Sustainable For All’ - works across 15 countries to build awareness and promote action to be taken on the Sustainable Development Goals. In Ireland World Vision Ireland coordinates this project with the Irish Environmental Network, and work with support from Social Justice Ireland and Eco- UNESCO.
 Goal 2: Zero Hunger: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/
 UNFAO: http://www.fao.org/economic/esa/esa-activities/smallholders/en/
Note to Editor:
Photos will be sent to news agencies following the completion of the Conference’s opening session that concludes around 11.30AM.
Make Ireland Sustainable For All Project
World Vision Ireland organised this Conference with the Irish Environmental Network as part of the Make Ireland Sustainable For All Project.
This project - part of the EU wide ‘Make Europe Sustainable For All’ - works across 15 countries to build awareness and promote action to be taken on the Sustainable Development Goals. In Ireland World Vision Ireland coordinates this project with the Irish Environmental Network, and work with support from Social Justice Ireland and Eco- UNESCO.
Alan.Pepper@wveu.org / 087 184 8839
Irish Environmental Network
Photos of the event will be sent to photo editors circa 12noon, 11 April 2019