On July 21st, the President of the World Farmers’ Organisation, Theo de Jager, brought the voice of the farmers of the world into the virtual roundtable « Business Strategies for the Delivery of Healthy Diets for a Healthy Planet », the first of three high-level webinars, hosted by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) with FAO under the overall theme « Everyone Around the Table: Private Sector on Healthy Diets ».
The meeting featured the participation of speakers from the private sector, as well as governments, academia, and civil society to discuss practical and strategic engagements for reshaping our food systems to provide healthy diets for human health as well as the planet health.
Responding to the moderator’s question « How can the resilience and livelihoods of farmers be improved by connecting better with food value chains – from producer to consumer? », the WFO President reminded the audience, first of all, that farmers and their families are consumers too.
« Farming is a business, and it needs to be profitable to be sustainable, » he stated, and in order to be profitable, farmers need to be able to put the products consumers prefer on the shelves because consumers are the only real pulling force of the food value chains.
Continuing his speech, Theo de Jager highlighted the importance that consumers know how the food is produced and care about how healthy it is. Unfortunately, still, too few consumers ask these questions around the world, because for the majority of them, particularly in the global South, the real issue is still the access to affordable food.
COVID-19 have brought a new dimension to this debate, since people, all of a sudden in lockdown, have started to ask further essential questions about producers. Hence, the questions we should be asking are: « What must change to have a better world after COVID, both for consumers and producers? In 10-20 years from now, what do we need to change to ensure a world without hunger? ».
At the end of his speech, De Jager did not fail to remind the audience that there is only one way to eradicate poverty, and that is through the creation of wealth. No one is better positioned to do that, than the current generation of family farmers, who anchor all the communities and ensure that food can be on our tables. Governments should create enabling policy environments where family farmers can earn their living decently.