The 2022 edition of the WFO General Assembly (WFOGA2022) takes home a huge political success, proving that farmers of the world can overcome geographical and cultural differences and converge on what unites them!

Farmers’ leaders from WFO Member Organisations across the globe have expressed their positive votes for the adoption of three brand new policies on Youth, Innovation and Cooperatives and the revision of the WFO policy on Women.

Here the WFO Policy Positions adopted at the WFOGA2022 in points:

WFO Young Farmers’ Agenda

Young farmers represent a huge goldmine for the future of our planet, implementing solutions to make agriculture more sustainable, innovative, young. However, youth in agriculture face several challenges including unemployment, lack of access to land, credit, resources, education.

Young farmers call for actions to:

  1. create an enabling environment for youth by adopting farmers driven policies, designing tailor-made educational programs for youth, as well as facilitating youth access to resources, infrastructures, education, capital, inputs.
  2. strengthen youth organisations and participation in land policymaking processes, facilitating youth access to finance, foster generation renewal in agriculture and provide incentives for those retiring to let their farms to the younger generation.
  3. create an enabling environment to support young farmers to create their own institutions and to support partnerships with and among youth-focused and youth-led organisations, to increase youth institutional capacity and advocacy power.
  4. adopt and implement policies to facilitate youth access to markets, as well as to training and capacity building to be able to fully express their potential as entrepreneurs in the value chain.

Fostering Women Empowerment as the Road to Sustainability

Women play a key role in achieving global food security as well as in making food systems more sustainable. Still, women’s role, especially in the agricultural sector, is too often underestimated and hidden.

Women farmers, compared to men, face several challenges including lack of access to land, education, resources; household work; gender barriers.

WFO Women Policy calls for:

  1. providing an enabling environment to foster women empowerment, increasing women’s leadership and entrepreneurial skills, thus contributing to the overall sustainable development of food systems.
  2. designing and implement policies and targeted programs that contribute to strengthening women’s roles and impact by encouraging respectful norms and non-discriminatory behaviors, by facilitating i.e., equal access to services, market, education, capacity building, social protection and insurance schemes, child -care facilities, thus protecting women’s rights and opportunities.
  3. recognising the multiple roles played by women, at family and community level, as well as the unpaid work they do at household level and in family farms. Organisations, including Farmers’ Organisations and Cooperatives can play a key role in this, applying the conditions to guarantee equality in salaries and job opportunities.

Research and innovation for sustainable and productive agriculture in the global Food Systems

In a world with growing population facing many challenges including climate change, pandemics, soils degradation, a lot of pressure is put on farming.
Innovation, in its broader meaning, is a key driver to improve production quality and food systems sustainability and resilience.
It is therefore necessary to shape a conducive “innovation-framework” for farmers globally, starting from Innovating the societal perception of farmers and agriculture and innovating the paradigms of innovation in agriculture.

Farmers are innovators by nature and innovation in agriculture has to be farmer-driven, based on farmers’ needs but also expertise and knowledge and affordable for all farmers to be an instrument for them to achieve the sustainability pillars: economic, environmental and social.

Farmers of the world call for actions to:

  1. adopt an innovative vision on farmers and Agriculture as a solution-oriented and multifunctional sector.
  2. shape and adopt a farmer-driven innovation approach.
  3. empower Farmers’ Organisations and Cooperatives to effectively support farmers in their innovation path.
  4. increase public and private investments in infrastructures to support and spur innovation in the farming community.
  5. develop innovative finance and insurance models for agriculture.
  6. build a solid, conducive and consistent policy framework that unlocks innovation in agriculture in all its dimensions.
  7. develop inclusive and operational business models for data management that benefit farmers.
  8. develop new business models and streamline the adoption of digital technologies to enhance farmers’ position in the food systems at all levels.
  9. innovate the way the food is perceived in nutrition and food education policies highlighting the central role in ensuring the provision of healthy and sustainable food for all.

The Role of Cooperatives to the Sustainability of Agriculture and Food Systems

Cooperatives boost economic and social development and generate socio-economic benefits to their members, increasing their stability and bargaining power.

Agricultural cooperatives strengthen their members, including women and youth, by organizing them, creating jobs opportunities, increasing their market power and access to resources (funds, education, innovation).

Agricultural cooperatives also play a key role in shifting to sustainable food systems as well as reducing food insecurity and contributing to communities’ response to climate change related challenges.

Policy Recommendations to empower agricultural cooperatives include:

  1. encourage investments to strengthen organised agriculture. Agricultural cooperatives play a key role in shaping the farming sector by organizing farmers, including women and youth, empowering them both economically and socially, creating jobs and bringing farmers into business models that are resilient to both economic and environmental shocks.
  2. recognise cooperatives as an innovative business model which contributes to boost food security, foster social development, achieve sustainability in food systems, boost the use of renewable energy. They embody the principles of the 2030 Agenda: leaving no one behind and strengthen partnerships to succeed.
  3. strengthening cooperatives is key to facilitate farmers’ access to resources, including land, technology, information education, funds, insurances, social services, that individual farmers may otherwise not be able to access alone, thus fostering development of rural communities.

The most crucial function of any farmers’ organisation is advocacy. A successful advocacy relies on strong policies and policies can be strong only when they really reflect the position of the members.
Policies are the first asset of an organisation like WFO.
This is the value for national farmers’ organisations of being part of a global organisation, like the WFO: being empowered to influence the implementation of the international agenda at the national level!

TRADE: Towards the 2023 General Assembly

The General Assembly was also the occasion for WFO Members to reiterate their commitment to working together to advancing towards reinforcing the global agricultural trading system to operate in a fair, transparent and predictable trading environment.

Last year, the WFO General Assembly adopted “The Policy Development Roadmap 2021-2022” that includes a political mandate to the WFO Board to establish an ad-hoc Task Force with the objective to coordinate the discussion among WFO Members aimed at exploring interests and proposals for opening the process of revision of the WFO Policy Paper on Trade by the next General Assembly in 2023.

As the first result of the work already done, the WFO Task Force on Trade appealed to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, taking place in Geneva from June 12 to 16, to update the agricultural negotiations to the new global challenges facing the food and agriculture system, reinforcing the position of farmers in the food chain and ensuring the food security of the global population.