World Rural Forum Speaks About their Commitment to Family Farming

From foodtank.com, by Michael Halper
World Rural Forum Speaks About their Commitment to Family Farming

The Food Tank had the pleasure of speaking with Auxtin Ortiz and Joseba Imaz of the World Rural Forum, about their role in the 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) and how they will keep the momentum going in 2015.

Food Tank (FT):  What was the greatest victory for rural communities and family farmers due to the IYFF? In what ways was the IYFF the most successful?

World Rural Forum (WRF): We should underline three main achievements:

  • The family farming won a lot of recognition and visibility. Before the IYFF, there were doubts about family farming. There is now a consensus on how important it is.
  • Family farming is now more important in international institutions. For example, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) decided to include family farming in its 5 Structural Objectives. Now we have a stronger voice in international institutions and governments.
  • There are concrete gains in many countries. Columbia has implemented its first national program on family farming. There were reforms on sea and land policy in Gambia. We have greater procurement of family farmed products in Paraguay, and also some increase in family farming budgets in Nepal, Slovakia, and Burkina Faso.

FT: What was the greatest learning experience for the forum during the IYFF?

WRF: More than 700 stakeholders all over the world have participated in the IYFF process, campaign, and celebrations. The greatest learning experience was working with farmers, organizations, international networks, and international organizations. If we try to work together in the same direction, in the same way, with common and agreed-upon demands, we make advances in whatever we want. In the history of our organization, it has always been very important to work with different and pluralistic stakeholders. This even more important after the IYFF.

FT: Did the forum get bigger?

WRF: Yes. During the IYFF, many farmers’ organizations, rural associations, and research centers requested to become members of the World Rural Forum.

The recognition of the role played by family farmers worldwide has also grown, as well as the number of stakeholders involved in its promotion and the number of public policies in favor of family farming in several countries. That is the real value of the IYFF.

FT: How will the successes of the IYFF impact the Forum's goals and priorities in 2015?

WRF: November 14th and 15th there was a meeting in Brazil. Farmers and organizations from five continents, rural associations, and research institutions gathered and  agreed on some ways to give continuity to the IYFF. With an eye on The Brasilia Declaration, and after analyzing the goals and achievements of IYFF, we decided to extend the family farming campaign for 10 more years. We decided to focus efforts in three mains areas:

  • Promote the family farming national committees created last year.
  • Promote participatory research on family farming. We want family farmers and organizations playing a key role in research programs.
  • Achieve global guidelines in favor of family farming and create a common framework for public policy.

This extension of the campaign is called IYFF+10. We will especially focus on promoting national committees, participatory research, and we will try to global guidelines.

FT: Seeking to help rural, agricultural communities is a very big, complex undertaking. How does WRF stay on top of all the different organizations, governments, research institutions, and people who play a role in the future of these communities?

WRF: WRF is a plural network of farmers’ federations, rural organizations, research institutions, agricultural research centers, etc. I think that it’s important that, while the secretariat is not very big, it’s very important to work with different organizations and agree on common demands. That’s what we did in Brasilia. We see our work as a service to all these organizations, and we try to promote the idea that family farmers can be the main characters of their future. We give them the possibility to be heard. That’s the most important thing: to work together, to give them control of their future and their work.

FT: What do you think are the most pressing issues that rural communities are facing in 2015?

WRF: Going back to the Brasilia meeting – we all agreed which were the main problems and demands for the upcoming years. There were six demands total:

  1. Every nation must develop its own local food production, managed by family farmers.
  2. Governments need to give urgent priority to implementing voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests, which were passed within the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
  3. The CFS must underline the need to design and approve voluntary guidelines for family farming.
  4. Governments must allocate a suitable budget for the development of family farming and provide quality economic resources.
  5. We must guarantee the quality of rights among men and women family farmers, and specific policies to achieve it.
  6. We must approve public policies to promote inclusion, integration, and incorporation, and social, legal, and economic recognition of young people within the agricultural sector. We need to promote young people to become a part of family farming.

FT: What are some of the best things average people like me and you can do to help family farmers?

WRF: We have to understand that our everyday decisions have an effect on our farmers’ lives and our food system. We should try to buy local and sustainable food from local family farmers. We should learn about the importance of family farming, about the key role that family farmers play in our food system. We should tell our friends and families about the importance of family farming. And we should support civil society organizations that work in favor of family farming, food security, and a more equitable food system.

Check out an infographic on some of the successes of the International Year of Family Farming HERE.