The United Nations has declared 2014 as the international year of family farming so as to support the farmers achieve food security and eradicate global poverty, according to the FAO.
In both developed and developing countries, over 500 million family farms - defined as farms that rely primarily on family members for labour and management - produce the food that feeds billions of people, said FAO, the UN body.
In many developing countries, family farms represent up to 80 per cent of all farm holdings, it added.
"By choosing to celebrate this year, we recognise that family farmers are leading figures in responding to the double urgency the world faces today: improving food security and preserving the natural resources, in line with the Millennium Development Goals, with the debate on the post-2015 development agenda and the zero hunger challenge," FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said.
Emphasising upon the need to reposition family farming at the centre of national and regional development programmes, he said the governments need to lead the support to such families to that they can reach their full potential.
"This includes offering technical assistance and policies that support the productivity increase of family farms; placing appropriate technologies within their reach; improving their access to land and water, credit and markets; and creating an enabling environment for further investments," he added.
FAO said during 2014 it will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers.
All kinds of evidence show that poor family farmers can quickly deploy their productivity potential when the right policy environment is effectively put in place, it said.