Q&A Session with Arnold Puech d’ALISSAC, the newly elected WFO President for the biennium 2022-2024
1 – Passionate family farmer in the Normandy region in northern France, you dedicated your life to advocate for the farmers at the national, regional and global levels. You have represented the European Constituency on the WFO Board since 2017, also serving as the Treasurer and Vice President of the Organisation. How would you describe your new role as President of the World Farmers’ Organisation?
As President of the World Farmers’ Organisation, I commit to being the spokesperson of every farmers’ organisation, member of WFO and moreover, more than 1 billion farmers worldwide.
2- You said you want to be the spokesperson for all the farmers in the world, but farmers are very diverse. How are you planning to cope with this diversity?
Despite our geographical distances and diversity, we, farmers, share the same needs and expectations for our farms to flourish and our families to thrive.
“The world is a village” is a phrase that I often use, and these times of significant challenges and concerns are proving just that. Climate change affects everyone in the world. The food crisis we are experiencing today is a planetary crisis and all the farmers of the world are impacted. These are just a few examples of issues that affect farmers no matter where they are from or the agricultural business they are specialized in.
3 – As President of the World Farmers’ Organisation, what is the right approach for the world’s farmers to tackle the challenges you mentioned?
All these challenges require a joint commitment. Collaborate ever more closely to support agriculture’s central role in the food systems at local, national and global level, as well as to strengthen dialogue among farmers, is crucial if we want to make the common front in coping with the growing challenges from climate change to global food security, undermined by the ongoing conflicts and the pandemic.
Furthermore, we, as Farmers, are innovators by nature and necessity. We have always looked for better ways to manage our work, save time and resources and adapt to a changing environment, always finding solutions that have survived for centuries. With the awareness of the past and the present, we look at the new with the confidence of finding the answers to the challenges we need to face as entrepreneurs and as members of our communities.
4 – From now to 2024, which is the most critical achievement you would like to take home as the President of the World Farmers’ Organisation?
Having had the chance to represent the European Young Farmers as President of CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers) a few years ago, I keep a special place in my heart for their energy, their dreams and aspirations. A special eye will therefore be on young farmers. I want to build with them mechanisms for reinforcing their representation and giving them more voice in WFO deliberations.
I want to create a “WFO Young” branch to integrate the youth component of the WFO membership and bring their voice more strongly into the Board of Directors.
Young farmers are our present and our future. Nothing gives me more emotion than knowing there is a generation of passionate and energetic future farmers’ leaders willing and committed to boosting the entire agricultural sector towards a sustainable future for all: our farmers, our people, our planet.
5 – What about women and their crucial role?
Women farmers will also be at the heart of my programme, advocating for recognition of their invaluable role in our family farms and organised agriculture.
We are already walking the talk, with our WFO Board of Directors composed of 4 Women Representatives – North America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania, proving that the farmers of the world are committed to boost women’s leadership in agriculture.
6 – You mentioned the WFO Board of Directors. How do you conceive your collaboration with your colleagues within the Board?
Working closely with each Board Member in the interest of the world’s farmers is my priority. They represent the regional constituencies in which WFO is organised (Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, Latin America, and North America), each with their own specificity and story to tell, and it will be my commitment to give voice to each of them.
Furthermore, each Board Member is an invaluable ambassador of the Organisation. That is why I called on each of the Board members to take ownership and accountability of one or more political processes where we advocate for the needs and expectations of the farming community.
7 – What message would you like to send to the world farmers?
I really would like to reiterate that the world has never been as small as it is today. The waves produced by global challenges are hitting our local communities. On the other hand, as farmers, we are called to offer local solutions to cope with global challenges.
There is a lot we can exchange, sharing knowledge, learning from each other and moreover inspiring each other.
I hope that WFO members, and all the farmers in the world, will leverage the capacity of WFO to build bridges among us and give voice to all of us, bringing local solutions to the international discussions to close the gap between global and local and apply local solutions to problems that come from the global scene.
We are here to hear from you, fellow farmers, and the solutions you have identified.
As a global farmers’ voice representing national farmers’ organisations and cooperatives, we want to create value for you and your members in your own countries. To do so, we also need your input from the grassroots level to feed our global policy processes, and we commit to return to you with opportunities and tools for your advocacy at the country level.
Together we are stronger. Let’s go the next mile together.
8 – A phrase or a quote will you never forget?
Alone, you go faster, but together we go farther.