After three years of implementation, the UN Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 (UNDFF) hosted its first Global Forum on 19-22 September 2022. Co-organised by FAO-IFAD, the Forum leveraged the experiences of different actors to take stock of the achievements and challenges faced since launching the UNDFF.
As a member of the International Steering Committee, the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) contributed to shaping the agenda and was actively engaged with speaking slots in different sessions.
DAY 1 – High-Level Opening Session
The High-Level Opening Session marked an important momentum to strengthen the commitment of governments, family farmers’ organizations and of UN agencies to develop public policies and investments to support family farming.
The Opening Session emphasized that family farmers are the foundation of food security and are key to deliver what we want to achieve: food systems that produce enough healthy food, that brings economic benefits and development to rural people and its territories, safeguarding the environment.
Moderated by Mr Ron Hartman, Director, Global Engagement and Resource Mobilisation Division, IFAD, the session featured the participation of Mr QU Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, Mr Alvaro Lario, President-elect of IFAD, H.E. Csaba Kőrösi, President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Abu Bakarr Karim, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Sierra Leone, Mr. Victor Julio Carvajal-Porras, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry of Costa Rica, Mr. Jamal Uddin Ahmed, Director of Agriculture, Rural Development and SAARC Development Fund, H.E. Gabriel Ferrero y de Loma-Osorio, Chairperson of Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
Mr Arnold Puech D’Alissac, President of the World Farmers’ Organisation, joined the session together with Mr Martin Uriarte, President of the World Rural Forum, and Ms Morgan Ody, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, as leaders of the global organisations members of the UNDFF International Steering Committee, supporting the implementation of the Decade.
The WFO President opened his speech by stating that family farming plays a crucial role to delivering environmental, social and economic sustainability. He also underlined: “If we don’t put family farmers in the right conditions to earn their living from their farms, there will be no farming in the future! And with no farming, there can be no sustainable food systems.”
The speech was the occasion for the WFO President to call for the need to boost the UNDFF implementation, acting immediately on different priorities such as improving family farmers’ access to natural resources, including land and water, to social policies, markets, and to financial and nonfinancial opportunities.
He also highlighted that it is crucial to invest in capacity building for young and women farmers to make them able to lead farms and create farmers’ organisations, and cooperatives, thus empowering themselves and their families and communities. “Young farmers are our present and our future. […] 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.”
Above all, Mr Arnold Puech D’Alissac invited all the esteemed panellists and the audience to listen to family farmers and the smart solutions they are already applying to improve the sustainability of the farming sector and their livelihoods.
With this in mind, WFO joined other farmers’ organisations and Governments in the Coalition on Family Farming launched in the framework of the UN Food Systems Summit to strengthen family farming at all levels, from local to global.
DAY 2 – SESSION 2 “Support Youth and ensure the generational sustainability of Family Farming” (Pillar 2 of the Global Action Plan of Family Farming)
The session brought experiences and practices and policy initiatives from around the world focused on supporting youth and ensuring the generational sustainability of family farming, highlighting the importance of intra and inter-generational knowledge exchange to foster innovation and guarantee the future of sustainable agri-food systems.
WFO Gymnasium Alumna Khoushbou Sewraj from Mauritius proudly brought into the discussion the experience of the WFO Gymnasium High-Level Capacity Building Program and how it has strengthened young farmers’ engagement within their organisations and in national and local policy processes.
Ms. Khoushbou Sewraj explained the audience how the WFO Gymnasium program works and how many opportunities it gives to young farmers to grow as future leaders in the agricultural sector.
In its framework, young farmers receive lessons from international leaders, who work in the various policy areas at global level; they also have the opportunity to attend and be actively engaged in global events related to agriculture.
She then underlined the main constraints young farmers face when trying to run a farm, such as limited access to investments, networking, knowledge, data, markets and agri-resources, but also the negative perception that farming is not a profitable business.
She closed her presentation with a quote from the WFO Gymnasium Students: “If we want to make sure young people step into farming, we need to listen to them. Make sure the voice of young farmers is heard.”
DAY 2 – SESSION 4 “Strengthen Family Farmers’ Organisations and capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers and provide inclusive services in the urban-rural continuum” (Pillar 4 of the Global Action Plan of Family Farming)
The session on strengthening family farmers’ organizations and capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers and provide inclusive services in the urban-rural continuum explored, through different experiences, the fundamental importance of strengthening organisational capacities and technical expertise of family farmer’s organisations and cooperatives, to bolster their collective action, economic inclusion and participation in policy processes.
As the moderator of the session, the WFO Secretary General Arianna Giuliodori opened the discussion with a quote from the UNDFF Global Action Plan: “when farmers get organised and strengthen their collaboration, they achieve better results while reducing inequalities through longer lasting solutions”.
The quote was the opportunity to kickstart the debate and reiterate how important it is to give voice to the family farmers of the world, to empower them so they can speak up in all the relevant international processes affecting the present and the future of farming.