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:
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:
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:
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.