In the framework of the annual Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA2023), organised in Berlin, Germany by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL),  the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), together with Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA), co-hosted, on January 19, the Expert Panel “Investing on Local Farmers’ Solutions to address Global Food System Challenges”.

The event explored the challenges and opportunities of a strong and active role of Farmers’ Organisations in shaping more sustainable Food Systems at the national and global levels.

Moderated by Babafemi Oyewole, CEO, Pan African Farmers’ Organisation (PAFO), the panel featured the participation of:

Opening the debate, Mr Babafemi Oyewole highlighted the contribution that farmers and their organisations could bring to support governments in implementing the national pathways. Still, their capacity, especially financially, is very limited. “That is why is important to support them so that they can fully play their role,” said the PAFO CEO.

Production costs, fertilisers’ availability – half of the food in the world is produced thanks to fertilisers, and the conflict has disrupted the market – and climate change are the three main global emergencies farmers face nowadays, according to the WFO President Arnold Puech d’Alissac.

What can farmers’ organisations do to support farmers in addressing these challenges and catalysing the farmers’ potential to boost a sustainable future for all? “Farmers need to be organised to be heard. And this is what we do at the World Farmers Organisation,” he stated in front of a packed room.

Sharing an example of how farmers have been able to drive change from the bottom up and contribute to the idea of a healthier planet for healthier people, WFO President brought into the conversation the concrete experience of The Climakers initiative, which promotes the exchange between farmers of the best practices and concrete solutions to the climate crisis they are implementing across the globe to advance more sustainable, climate-resilient, and nature-positive agriculture.

Ms Thouraya Triki from IFAD agreed and underlined that strengthening and empowering farmers’ organisations is crucial to influence policies at every level, also to facilitate market access.
She also remarked on the importance of other facilities, such as that access to financial services, insurance and infrastructure: “Farmers are businessmen and women and need to invest to face global challenges. Insurance is the best way to guarantee resilience. They can’t farm without proper infrastructure.”

The Vice President of AgriCord, Marcel Groleau, added: “Farmers’ Organisations can mobilise youth to believe in farming, empower women, improve access to the market and get a better deal for the producers.”

What should policymakers do? COP28 should demonstrate that farmers and food systems are at the heart of the solutions,” Edward Davey stated. He took the occasion of the event to present the FOLU’s latest report: “Aligning regenerative agricultural practices with outcomes to deliver for people, nature and climate”, which highlights the need for reforming the global food system and investigates how an outcomes-based approach to Regenerative Agriculture can boost yields, biodiversity and climate mitigation.

Martien van Nieuwkoop, Global Director of Agriculture and Food Global Practice at World Bank, jumped into the conversation, highlighting that “to be successful in the 21st century, farmers should not see themselves only as food producers but also as delivering ecosystem services, creating new revenue streams. By diversifying revenue streams, they can be resilient and successful.”

He also agreed that the biggest challenge farmers face today is climate change: “without climate change, productivity would be 22% higher. Around $700 billion are already flowing around agriculture: but out of every dollar spent on agriculture, only 25 cents go to farmers”.

Closing the session, the WFO President addressed the other panellists and the audience calling for a joint effort to overcome climate change and all the challenges the agricultural sector face, to ensure a better future for all.