National Committees are making a difference
International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) National Committees around the globe continue to improve conditions for family and small-scale farmers in a variety of ways by helping them achieve their full potential.
The World Rural Forum (WRF) and IYFF-2014 National Committees have released a mid-year report on progress made so far during the IYFF. More than half way through the year, it is clear that the role of National Committees working in collaboration with governments, civil society organisations, NGOs, farmers' organisations, international institutions and research centres is essential to bringing about change for family farmers.
WHAT ARE NATIONAL COMMITTEES?
There are currently over 600 different entities organised at national level forming over 60 National Committees in five continents. Despite their varying nature, these National Committees promote the same vision: to enable their nations' family farmers to feed their inhabitants despite the wide-ranging diversity of local contexts.
National Committees have helped define national goals, establish work plans and implement specific activities in the large and diversified field of family farming.
In addition to the dozen or so National Committees being formed at present, there are 16 National Committees in Africa, 16 in the Americas, eight in Europe, four in Asia and one in Oceania. In just over six months, these committees have organised more than three hundred activities to promote and raise awareness around family farming and, in the case of two thirds of them, discussions have resulted in political change.
HOW ARE NATIONAL COMMITTEES CONTRIBUTING?
1. Political impact
Declarations and roadmaps restating proposals to improve national public policies were drawn up and presented to the competent authorities by the National Committees of Mexico, The Philippines, Ivory Coast, USA, Paraguay and Costa Rica, among others. Furthermore, manifestos or concept notes were issued by the National Committees of Burundi, Senegal, Indonesia and Zimbabwe.
In France, the Association des Régions de France (Association of French Regions) recently issued the Déclaration de Rennes (FR), which recognised the importance of promoting local food production systems.
In South America, 15 national committees and 12 other organisations belonging to the Confederation of Family Farmers of MERCOUR issued the Regional Montevideo Declaration (ES) comprising some twenty concrete demands relating to family farming.
At a more global level, the Declaration of Abu Dhabi (EN) approved by farmers' organisations from the five continents attracted broad support from farming and other agricultural organisations.
A number of governments have also issued official declarations in favour of family farming including the Paris Ministerial Declaration (FR), the Andean Parliament Declaration and the recent Baku Declaration (EN) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE).
In parallel, new and specific draft laws have already emerged within the framework of the 2014 IYFF. This is the case in Paraguay with its Decree 1056 including the Presidential Law on public procurement of food products from family farmers.
Similarly in Colombia, Ministerial Resolution 267 provides for the launching of a Family Farming Programme, officially establishing the family farming concept along with a technical committee for the sector.
In Argentina, the government has issued Decree 1030/2014 providing for the establishment of a State Secretariat for Family Farming.
In Burkina Faso, the Ministry of Agriculture has promised a budget allocation to strengthen family farming during the forthcoming growing season while the government of Nepal has allocated for the promotion of family farming in 2014.
2. Knowledge sharing
Thanks to increased collaboration with research centres, the building of technical knowledge on the various dimensions of family farming is also progressing. Scientific papers and publications focusing on family farming have been published in many countries and conferences on a variety of aspects have been held around the globe.
Data collection and research is the first step in order to assess local contexts and specific economic, social, political and environmental issues. Numerous national committees have already carried out studies and issued reports focusing on the problems faced by rural areas, for example in India, Nigeria, Burundi and Côte d'Ivoire.
3. Raising awareness
National Committees around the world have organised and/or participated in numerous fairs, public fora or festivals in their countries. Cultural activities such as family farming themed exhibitions and competitions have been organised as well as marches and rallies. National Committees have also collaborated with media and held press conferences in order to put the spotlight on family farming in their regions.
It is clear that family farming is being increasingly talked about and discovered. Increased partnerships and collaborations are bringing about concrete change at local and national levels. However, it is also evident that much work still needs to be done in the second part of the year to achieve the IYFF's objectives and surpass the positive results accomplished in the first part of 2014.
Information provided by the World Rural Forum and IYFF-2014 National Committees