World Agriculture Watch: Coming Soon FAFO12

by Jeffrey A Brez

This afternoon, after IFAD's Governing Council ended, the Farmers' Forum took advantage of the fact that so many stakeholders were still in town to have a final round of thematic events. I attended a session hosted by the FAO and CIRAD on a proposal for a World Agriculture Watch (WAW background in English French Spanish). The concept is founded on the notion that while we do have a lot of agricultural information and data available, there are important gaps in quality, quantity, availability and analysis. Particularly, we are lacking a tool with which to track and analyze trends in transformations and impacts in agricultural and farming systems that affect the world's 500 million smallholder farms. The discussion focussed on how to ensure that farmers' organizations can contribute to and benefit from the WAW. Here are the three presentations made, and below them a few thoughts on the discussion that followed.

Alessandra da Costa Lunas of COPROFAM presented thechallenges family and indigenous producers are facing in Latin America.

Alexander Muller, Assistant Director-General Natural Resources at FAO presented the rationale for a World Agriculture Watch.

Patrick Caron, General Director at CIRAD, looked at some of the mechanics of assessing structural changes and impacts in agricultural and farming systems in an integrated way.

Esther Penunia (Philippines) of the Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development set the tone by saying that while there is potential in WAW, it must include bottom up information and data that is already being generated by farmers' organizations to be a WOW! Ousseni Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso) of ROPPA urged that existing regional initiatives such as Agrimet not be duplicated, but complemented. Carlos Sere, IFAD's Chief Development Strategist advised that any new data system set up be sustainable, use an open data model approach that allows inputs from and useability for a variety of stakeholders, know its own boundaries (what questions it can and cannot answer), and have a reliable system to guarantee data quality.