Over February 12 – 13, 2024, the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), as an active member of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) FAFO Steering Committee since 2016, brought a significant delegation to the Eighth Global Meeting of the Farmers’ Forum (FAFO) at IFAD headquarters in Rome.

The WFO delegation included the WFO Secretary General, Dr Andrea Porro; the WFO Board Member for the Asia Constituency, Mr Sok Sotha, Ms Elizabeth Nsimadala, WFO Board Member for the Africa Constituency, Ms Tamisha Lee, President of the Jamaican Network of Rural Women Producers, Ms Meena Pokhrel from the Nepal Agricultural Co-operatie Central Federation, Mr Manuel Etcheveherre from Sociedad Rural Argentina and Mr Balbino Benitez from UAN – National Agricultural Union.

The delegation also featured four young farmers representatives: Harbert Mawejje from the Uganda National Farmers Federation, Marlize Grobbelaar from Southern Africa Agricultural Initiative, Viet Ha Nguyen Thi from the Vietnam Farmers’ Union and Evangelista Chekera from the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union.

The event, held every four years, convened more than 80 leaders of farmers from around the world. The main objective of this year’s meeting was to discuss ways to strengthen the partnership between IFAD and Farmers’ Organizations to deliver rural development together.

Sowing the Seeds of Resilience: Farmers at the Core of Climate-Resilient Pathways

On Tuesday 13, the WFO SG, Dr Andrea Porro, chaired a thematic discussion on “Climate change resilience and biodiversity conservation: opportunities and challenges for further partnership between Farmers’ Organizations and IFAD and to leverage financing, including through payments for ecological services.”

WFO SG Andrea Porro AT IFAD FAFO 2024

The session was the occasion to remark that farmers of all sizes, particularly family farmers, globally face first-hand the consequences of climate change, which put their land and produce, if not their own lives, at risk in many regions. That’s why farmers all around the world are among the most active and committed to adapting and mitigating the effects of a changing climate, striving to adapt their production methods to produce more sustainably every day.
Yet, too often in the global debate, they are framed as part of the problem rather than part of the solution to the climate crisis but are not directly involved in relevant conversations.
“Farmers are not the only ones in the food value chain.” –  Stated the WFO SG “It is equally important to define the role of other actors in the transition to more sustainable agri-food systems and recognise that Farmers’ Organisations are key to ensuring others do not make decisions for farmers.”

He concluded by remarking that investing ‘more and better’ in farmers is key to unlocking their full potential as food producers and biodiversity stewards, leading to resilient, sustainable food systems. A critical step to making this happen is ensuring farmers can access climate finance through a streamlined process without intermediaries.

Shared Objectives: IFAD and Farmers’ Organisations Towards Sustainable and Fair Food Systems

On the same day, during the closing session, the WFO Board Member representative for the Asian Constituency, Mr Sok Sotha, delivered his remarks on behalf of the Steering Committee of the Farmers’ Forum.

WFO BM Sok Sotha at IFAD FAFO 2024

Mr Sok Sotha remarked on the complementarity of the work of IFAD and the work of Farmers’ Organisations, explaining that “While Farmers’ Organisations need IFAD support to implement their mandate to provide services to their members, IFAD needs Farmers’ Organisations to implement its mandate of investing in rural people.”
“Without Agriculture, there can be no sustainable food systems!” – he underlined to put light on the fact that farmers, and especially family farmers, anchor food systems and take full responsibility for their sustainability; so IFAD should strengthen partnerships with farmers-organised structures to address these challenges and catalyse farmers’ potential to power a sustainable future for all.

Closing his speech, the WFO Board Member claimed the need to ensure that farming is profitable for farmers, stressing the key role IFAD should play in supporting Farmers’ Organisations participation in the policy debate so that governments can hear the voice of Farmers directly through their existing organised structures and platforms at national, regional, and global levels. At the same time, IFAD can also support Farmers through their FOs in accessing finance for investing in sustainable agricultural practices.

Synthesis of Deliberations of the 2024 IFAD Farmers’ Forum

A synthesis of deliberation of the 8th Global Meeting of the IFAD Farmers’ Forum was presented during the IFAD Governing Council on February 14 by Ibrahima Coulibaly, President of the Pan African Farmers Organization (PAFO).

The FAFO 2024 Outcome Document emphasises the pivotal role IFAD plays in bolstering food producers amidst intersecting crises. Recommendations include integrating Farmers’ Organisations (FOs) into IFAD’s governance structure, promoting sustainable practices in Agriculture, and supporting land redistribution policies. Demands also extend to funding mechanisms for Farmers’ Organisations, adherence to the United Nations Decade on Family Farmers and alignment with UN initiatives. Participants stressed the need for IFAD to prioritise dialogue, capacity-building, and policy coherence, underscoring a collective commitment to address global challenges.

Cover photo: © IFAD