Author: Irish Baguilat, Coordinator for the UNDFF and Women Farmers' Agenda of AFA
Source: Asian Farmers' Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)
Published: 6 January 2022
The pandemic and its consequences have had a huge impact on the livelihoods and welfare of small-scale family farmers. As expressed and observed, the disruptions within supply chains have widened the challenges confronting small-scale farmers and are partly because many farmers don’t have full control and access to productive resources, financial services, and affordable technologies among others. Farmers expressed that farm inputs were not readily available and accessible due to movement restrictions and requirements, thus, they were unable to plant on time. With conventional markets not functioning, their earnings have diminished in 2020-2021 and many were unable to pay their loans. While there are challenges, there are also innovative solutions that emerged. Farmers’ organizations that have started product consolidation and have access to digital technologies were able to devise ways to cope with the challenging times. Agricultural cooperatives were able to facilitate market access and were able to extend services to their members.
As development efforts are now focused on building back better, it is crucial to consider the many lessons from the ongoing pandemic. The Food Systems Summit in September 2021 was well-timed as it has elevated the discussions about the current food systems worldwide that are problematic. At the same time, the declaration of the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) has offered useful mechanisms that can be used in transforming food systems that support the welfare of small-scale family farmers (visit www.familyfarmingcampaign.org for more information). As expressed during the Young Farmers’ Round Table Discussion, the UNDFF processes can promote the effective and meaningful participation of young farmers in the food systems transformation planning and implementation.
In 2021, AFA had co-organized and supported several global and regional events were held in support of UNDFF. Important messages were generated and will be used in the advocacy activities and exchanges.
On 4-5 October 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization organized the Young Farmers’ Roundtable – For the support of youth and the generational sustainability of family farming (UNDFF) with support from the World Rural Forum (WFR), La Via Campesina (LVC), World Farmers’ Organization (WFO), Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA), Confederación de Organizaciones de Productores Familiares del Mercosur Ampliado (COPROFAM), European Coordination of La Via Campesina (ECVC), the Network of Farmers Organizations and Agricultural Producers of West Africa (ROPPA), Pacific Island Farmers Organization Network (PIFON) and to the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC). Call to actions include:
AFA supported the two-day event organized by the World Rural Forum, titled UNDFF ACTION PLANS: A Pathway for Food Systems Transformation in Asia and Strengthening Family Farming Platforms in Asia, held on 6-7 October 2021 respectively. AFA shared the various regional initiatives to support the UNDFF implementation. Key messages shared include:
AFA also took part during the GLOBAL CONFERENCE: Family Farming at the core of Sustainable Food Systems was organized by WRF on 22-26 November 2021. The conference aimed at scaling up the implementation of UNDFF and further rallying support from stakeholders. The week-long event was subdivided into several themes such as – sustainable production, rural youth, inclusive value chains, and market access, women’s leadership, public policies, land tenure rights, communications, and indigenous peoples. More information is available at https://conferencia.ruralforum.org/agenda/.
On 7 December 2021, AFA co-organized an event with AR Now and ILC Asia to present the seven (7) case studies that were produced through the regional project “Making Family Farms Secure, Sustainable and Viable in Asia”. Seven case studies were presented by seven (7) national partners. The focus was on local innovation of small-scale farmers around sustainable, agroecological agricultural practices, processing and marketing of safe and nutritious food, and gender-sensitive approaches. Strategies and lessons from the case studies are essential in existing and future livelihood recovery programs. A synthesis report will be produced out of this exchange.
Since its declaration in 2019, the implementation of UNDFF is seen as one of the mechanisms that will accelerate the achievement of SDGs. AFA is committed to building capacities of farmers’ organizations and will continue to push for actions around the seven pillars of the UNDFF Global Action Plan. AFA supported the development of the South Asia Regional Action Plan launched in July 2021. The Regional Plan aims to support member states as they localize and implement the Global Action Plan.
Read the full article and access recordings and more on the AFA website here.