From September 27 to 29, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted the Global Conference on Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (GAMC) at its premises in Rome, Italy.

Under the overall theme ‘Efficiency, Inclusiveness and Resilience’, the Conference provided a neutral forum and, in the words of FAO’s Director General, “a professional platform”, for FAO Members and relevant stakeholders to identify priority actions and strengthen technical networks for a greater expansion and adoption of Sustainable Agricultural Mechanisation (SAM).

The conference also contributed to raise awareness about the role of SAM in the implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 and attainment of the SDGs at global, regional and national levels.

The President of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), Mr Arnold Puech d’Alissac, was invited to address a session on the “Enabling Environment for Sustainable Mechanization and Digitalization” taking place on the third and final day of the Conference.

Speaking to an audience of governments, researchers and private sector representatives, the WFO President stressed the need to empower farmers co-creators, users, and co-owners of innovative solutions to realise the potential of Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization.

Farmers must be involved in the development and scaling of agricultural technologies, with a view to ensuring that any proposed solution is developed according to the needs of the users and the specificity of the different local contexts. It is also crucial to make knowledge and technologies accessible, affordable, and available to all farmers. With high and rising machinery costs, a large number of farmers especially in the Global South still rely on manual labour or working animals to do their work, Improved access to credit and insurance and enhanced investment in digital and physical infrastructure are key to supporting farmers embracing innovation.

With a growing integration of machinery and data science into agriculture, the WFO President emphasized the importance of empowering farmers as co-owners of Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization and the data they generate: “In a recent survey, most WFO Members agreed that today a farmer must work with digital tools and expressed in favour of data sharing with peers and stakeholders; however, more than 50% of responders indicated lack of trust in data recipients as the main obstacle to fully embrace data-led innovation.”
In this perspective, it is essential to build a solid and coherent policy framework and develop new partnerships between farmers and providers on the ownership and management of data.

In conclusion, the WFO President emphasized the importance of recognizing farmers as key partners in the development and expansion of Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization. A new holistic approach is needed, involving all relevant institutions and stakeholders, developing comprehensive policies underpinned by the latest scientific advancements and strong financial and legal incentives, and leading to a more fair distribution of power in the value chain.

Closing his speech, the WFO President reiterated farmers’ willingness to play their part and called upon others in the room to join in this effort.


Photo credit: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti