Good partnership for good stewardship in the agricultural sector

Climate change has tremendous impacts on the agricultural sector, which increasingly needs new technologies and other innovations to ensure food security and wellbeing for those who depend on it. On the second day of CFS44, I attended a side event hosted by the World Farmers’ Organization and the New Zealand and Canadian Governments on the role of farmers as stewards of the environment in addressing the challenges of climate change and food and nutrition security. The essence of the discussions at this session could be summarized by the interventions of the two farmers and representatives of farmer organizations invited:

Ms. Brenda Tlhabane from the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA), after explaining the influence of climate change on agricultural livelihoods in her country, cited a number of technologies that are playing important roles in promoting shock-resistant agriculture and food security. Soil-testing technologies, drought-tolerant crop varieties, chemical fertilizers, biomass technologies and rainwater-harvesting models are some technologies whose advantages were extolled. The highly educated South African female farmer concluded her intervention by advocating for the setting up of centers of excellence for learning and testing “green” technologies as well as academies where smart agriculture would be taught and researched.

For Dr. Theo De Jager, President of the World Farmers’ Organization (WFO), the time has never been so right as now for farmers to hatch a plan to be innovative in tackling climate change. Highly vulnerable to climate change due to their closeness to nature, farmers should not be excluded from debates that seek to solve their concerns. They must themselves take the lead in an innovation plan, which will give them the necessary ownership when partnering with other stakeholders (private-sector actors, researchers, academics, extension workers, donors) and contributing effectively to sustainable solutions to achieve “Zero Hunger”. The leader of the world’s largest farmer organization concluded his intervention with the statement: “Do not give us fish, but teach us to fish; and give us a market and we will create wealth”.

From the interventions of Mrs. Tlhabane and Dr. De Jager, who are both farmers and representatives of farmers’ organizations, it is clear that interventions in the agricultural sector need to be more and more inclusive. Other actors should no longer speak on behalf of the farmers, but the farmers themselves must be more involved in all decisions affecting their sector. Technologies and innovations are becoming increasingly important in the adaptation of agricultural communities to climate change and the achievement of food security. Farmers must also be recognized as capable of contributing effectively to food security and poverty eradication. Their innovation capacity must be given recognition, and necessary support must be provided to them for better producing, but also accessing good and profitable markets.

The approach of international networks such as Prolinnova (Promoting Local Innovation) which consists in identifying the innovations of grassroots farmers and helping them to improve their initiatives in a participatory way in collaboration with other actors (such as researchers and extension workers) gives farmers more responsibility in terms of environmental stewardship. Through this strategy, they learn from each other how to manage resources more efficiently to achieve better outcomes that can improve the wellbeing not only of their individual households but also of their entire community. Development partners must accompany such approaches so that farmers’ aspirations and plans are always put forward.

 

This blogpost covers the CFS44 side event " Tackling the challenges of climate change and food security: the role of farmers as stewards of the environment"

Blogpost by Georges Djohy, #CFS44 Social Reporter – gdjohy(at)gmail.com
Photo Credit: Kate Holt on Flickr

This post is part of the live coverage during the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, a social media project supported by GFAR. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

13/10/2017 8:33

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