IFAD supports poor farmers' voices at #rioplus20

by Clarissa Baldin, & Jeffrey A. Brez

IFAD has provided two small grants to two groups of regional and international smallholder farmers organizations to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
At Rio+20, the delegates from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas must agree on new solutions for how we grow, share and consume our food, and include the developing world’s 500 million small farms in those solutions.  This "once-in-a-generation" conference is an important opportunity to ensure an increased commitment to strengthen policies and scale up investments in sustainable food and agriculture systems - so that we can feed the world and protect the planet. Smallholder producers and their organisations already play a key role in maintaining and strengthening these systems at national and global levels - and they can contribute much more. They have in many cases developed small scale sustainable agriculture as an economically sound and ecological way to produce food, while reducing global greenhouse gas emissions through promoting more localized, agro-ecology based production models that are less dependent on fossil energy or that sequester carbon.
The availability of IFAD to support smallholders Farmers Organisations in Rio+20 was expressed and discussed in a special working group session of the Farmers Forum in February 2012. These grants are a direct output of these discussions.
The goal of the grants is to generate among Rio+20 stakeholders awareness of and support to successful small and medium scale sustainable food production as a major contributor to global food security, building rural economies, and sustaining the earth's biodiversity and natural resources.
The recipient of the first grant is the Associazione Italiana per l'Agricoltura Biologica (AIAB) acting on behalf of La Via Campesina, the West African Farmers Organizations Network (ROPPA) and the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP).  The recipient of the second grant is the Brazilian Union of Farm Workers (CONTAG) acting on behalf of the family farming coalition in the MERCOSUR (COPROFAM), the Panafrican Farmers' Organization (PAFO) and the Asian Farmers' Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA).
IFAD’s grants will support complementary activities carried out by the organizations, who aim to engage small and medium scale farmers, farmworkers, the landless, fisher folk and indigenous people organizations globally and generate support in the Rio+20 negotiations for policies and proposals in favour of small holder based, sustainable agriculture and fisheries. Specific activities include:
  • Support to coordination of small and family farmers’, small producers’ and fisher folks’ contributions to Farmers Major Group, and interface with other Major Groups including Women and NGOs Major Groups;
  • Support to the Peoples Summit for an Alternative Development
  • Interactions with governments and international agencies during the “Dialogue days” (from 16 to 19 June) and the Rio+20 Conference proper (20 to 22 June) through informal meetings with country delegations and officials.
La Via Campesina, ROPPA, WFFP, COPROFAM, PAFO and AFA represent together hundreds of millions of smallholder food producers. They are founding members and active participants of the Farmers’ Forum at IFAD and are all members of its Steering Committee.  During the Rio+20 summit, representatives of organizations members of these three networks from Africa, Asia and the Americas will defend their proposals for sustainable solutions to the current crisis.
Find out more about IFAD and Rio + 20.