The first Regional Policy on Family Farming was approved in Central America with IFAD's support

©IFAD/Pablo Corral Vega
The Central American Agricultural Council (CAC) has approved a regional policy directed to family farmers. The policy was developed by the Programme for Rural Regional Dialogue (PDRR), a long-term programme supported and financed by IFAD since 2007.

PAFCIA: The First Regional Policy on Family Farming
A new victory for peasant, indigenous and Afro-descendent family farmers has been achieved in Belize last July. After a long and highly-participative process at regional and country level, the governments of the CAC's member countries approved a regional policy that will constitute the framework to be followed by the national governments in the development of local policies. The Policy on Peasant, Indigenous and Afro-Descendent Family Farming 2018-2030 aims to 'move towards a diversified, inclusive and territorialized productive model, to contribute to the social and economic development of the countries and the region'.

Mr Abel Lara, Regional Coordinator of the Programme for Rural Regional Dialogue, stated that the policy aims ''to provide to the governments with the necessary instruments to support family farmers, especially in terms of agro-ecological practices and sustainable natural resource management. The next step now is to transform this policy in different laws at country-level, and we are working in different dialogue spaces at national-level to institutionalize the instruments developed in the regional policy’’. On the role of IFAD in the process, he added: ''IFAD has been a key partner over the years, not only because of its contributions in terms of knowledge and experiences in rural development and natural resource management, but also by pushing the boundaries of the debate on how to assure the outreach of traditionally excluded groups, as youth and indigenous people.’’

According to Juan Diego Ruiz Cumplido, IFAD's Hub Head for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, ''the official approval of the Family Farming Regional Policy for Central-America must be considered as a strategic milestone in order to promote sustainable, rural transformation processes in the region. The effective participation of small producers in inclusive food value chains is a key driver for tackling poverty and malnutrition at community level. This IFAD-funded initiative provides an outstanding good practice about the relevance of promoting policy dialogue by involving different stakeholders, both public and private, such as Governments, civil society organizations, think tanks, etc.’’

The Central American Agricultural Council (CAC) is the organisation within the Central-American Integration System (SICA) dedicated to develop and execute policies directed to the agricultural development of the member countries. A regional policy framework directed to family farming is a great advance for the region, as over 2.6 million productive units are responsible for 70 per cent of food production in the region.

IFAD's policy engagement in the region
The Programme for Rural Regional Dialogue was created in 2007 as a space for policy dialogue composed by professional social organizations representing small and medium-scale farmers and indigenous people, which benefited from the technical and financial support of IFAD. The overall objective of the PDRR has been to enhance policies related to family farming and rural development in Central America. Since its creation, the PDRR has established and maintained close dialogue with the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC) by means of hearings – attended by representatives of the organizations involved in the PDRR – and through the establishment of a channel for close communication and coordination with SECAC (the executive secretariat of CAC). CAC has acknowledged the PDRR as the main regional venue for dialogue between family farmers and governments in Central America.

The last IFAD's grant was approved in December 2016 to a consortium of the PRISMA Foundation, RIMISP and OXFAM, and has been dedicated to strengthen the institutional capacity and strategic vision of the PDRR and of organizations working on the topic of family farming in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Within this, it has facilitated and improved spaces for dialogue on national and regional policies focused on rural development and family farming.

IFAD has been promoting public policy engagement in Latin America, and particularly policy dialogue on issues related to family farming and rural development, for more than 10 years. At least two successful models for encouraging policy dialogue (and strengthening the institutional capacity of rural organizations) have now emerged in the region. 

The first aims to facilitate dialogue and policy harmonization at the regional level. This model is best illustrated by the highly successful Commission on Family Farming (REAF) of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), which was created in 2004 with the support of IFAD, and the Programme for Rural Regional Dialogue. 

The second and more recent model are the rural dialogue groups, funded by an IFAD grant to the Latin American Centre for Rural Development (RIMISP) and focused on promoting dialogue among high-level policymakers and relevant national stakeholders in a number of Latin American countries (Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Mexico).