On Friday, 9 December, WFO Secretary General Arianna Giuliodori joined the closing session of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Event Agri-Food Business Day to bring the global farmers’ perspective into the debate on the most topical issues facing agricultural trade.

The two-day event aimed to promote dialogue between WTO Members and the agri-food industry on international trade in food and agriculture commodities and the specific barriers to trade facing the industry across different geographic locations.

Moderated by Doaa Abdel-Motaal, Senior Counsellor, WTO Agriculture and Commodities Division, the closing session featured the participation of Anabel Gonzalez, Deputy Director-General, WTO; Michael Keller, Secretary General of the International Seed Federation, Chair of the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN); Ambassador Maria Pagan, Permanent Representative of the US to the WTO; Ambassador Ahmed Ihab Gamaleldin, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the WTO.

During her speech, Ms Giuliodori pointed out that all farmers depend on trade and at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, they came together with a joint statement to request governments to pursue the reinforcement of the global agriculture trading system so that they can operate in a fair, transparent, and predictable trading environment.

Looking at the current situation, WFO SG stressed the farmers’ need for support in terms of credit, input, and fertilizers and, above all, their need for political stability at the country and global levels. She also highlighted that world farmers are not simply asking for support. They are coming to the table with a clear message:

Let’s do it together. Let’s work hand in hand with all the stakeholders in the food systems to bring options to the table in a real spirit of partnership that is perfectly coherent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDG17. That will help us deliver.”

“Innovation is at the heart of farmers’ activities and represents the pathway to sustainability and the future of sustainable production” – WFO Secretary General Arianna Giuliodori

Addressing innovation’s role in agriculture’s future, the WFO Secretary General reminded that at the last General Assembly held last June, the World Famers’ Organisation adopted a brand-new policy on innovation, which clearly states that innovation must be inclusive.
“We must make efforts to make innovation accessible and affordable to all farmers
and the knowledge, models, and sharing about innovation closer to farmers’ needs. That is why, in WFO, we talk about farmer-driven innovation.”

What does “farmer-driven” mean? Farmers are innovators by nature and by necessity. They have always looked for better ways to manage their work, save time and resources and adapt to a changing environment.

Answering the question of what the WTO rulebook should do to help farmers be up to the innovation challenge, the WFO SG called for refocusing on the people that are producing food on the ground: “Why don’t we ask the farmers?” she said, bringing to the audience’s attention that WFO is working on revising its policy on International Trade based on the collection of inputs and data from those who have their fingers in the soil every day.

What if we break down siloes and barriers, embrace the spirit of partnership, and have farmers and the WTO Member States discussing the best way forward?”, the WFO Secretary General asked, addressing the other panellists.

Closing her speech, Ms Giuliodori reiterated farmers’ willingness and commitment to work together with governments to find new pathways proving that it is possible to combine global challenges and national needs to see the agricultural trade flourish.

Click here to listen to her entire speech: https://youtu.be/FmdDRGdQ3fI