The third global meeting of the Farmers' Forum is now underway. This morning IFAD President welcomed 70 farmers' leaders from around the world, representing millions of smallholders and rural producers from all over the world.
In his statement the President made a strong case for investing more in agriculture and smallholder farmers. The President said: "if we know that 85% of all farmland worldwide is less than 2 ha in size (in the developing world it is as low as ¼ ha); if we know that 500,000 million smallholders produce 80% of the food we consume in the developing world; that they live in rural areas and make up the majority of the rural poor; and if we know that over 60% of the rural population is made of youths with over 50% being young women and girls. If we know all this, I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, who will feed the world in 2020, in 2030 or in 2050 by which time we would have added another 3 billion people, 50%, to our population?" He continued to say: "We must invest in the rural youth of today, the farmers of tomorrow".
The President talking about Africa said: "I am also absolutely convinced that Africa can feed itself, just as Viet Nam and China have done. Africa has the human and natural resources it needs to achieve agricultural growth and food self-sufficiency. What is needed is committed local leadership.... And this is what I have been calling to African leaders. "
"And I will repeat my call: No nation, no people achieved economic development unless it comes from within and agriculture is the foundation for it; after all, development is an intrinsic and endogenous process."
The President concluded by mentioning that "there are still a number of countries were IFAD’s cooperation with farmers organizations is limited. He indicated that we need to reach out further and deeper and develop these connections."
"We must work together to strengthen the linkages of your organizations with the grassroots levels and invest in the village-level advocacy to have an impact at the ground level and to improve the inclusive basis of our partnerships", said Nwanze.
"We need to develop the advocacy role of the farmers’ organizations in the national policy debate". The President concluded his statement by stating that "we need to engage rural youth in agricultuture; help them organise themselves into young farmers associations, provide opportunities for capacity building and training; institutional linkages and market informations. They are the food producers of tomorrow. "
Following the President's statement, the members of the steering committe (IFAP, LVC, WFFP, WFF, AFA, COPROFAM, ROPPA) made short statements echoing:
- the need to focus on women and youth in developing agricultural policies
- the need to focus on issues such as land entitlement and ownership
- the fact that commercialization of smallscale agriculture is the way forward
During the course of the day, the participants interacted with IFAD staff and selected partners and attended regional working group sessions to share the progress achieved to date and discuss future goals for partnerships with farmer organizations at national and regional levels.
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