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HIGHLIGHT : SMAIAS - FAO Policy Dialogue: an opportunity for university students to exchange knowledge and experiences


The first FAO and Sam Moyo African Institute of Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) Policy Dialogue ended on the 27th of October in Harare after five days of discussion and lectures on food security, family farming, climate change, migration, land tenure and sustainable investment in agriculture and food systems.

The Policy Dialogue was attended by over thirty participants, including master’s and Ph.D. students, FAO technical experts, academia and civil society representatives. Students, who were drawn from 17 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean, will later produce policy papers engaging with FAO’s thematic priorities and work plan. They were also encouraged to contribute to the work that FAO is doing by applying to the Internship/Volunteer/Fellows Programme.

This academic partnership between FAO and SMAIAS aims to promote policy dialogue, generate knowledge and facilitate the exchange of experiences in various areas related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, David Phiri, pointed out that “FAO is also continuously working in partnership with various actors at the global, regional and national level to carry out focused and integrated activities. Partnerships and South-South Cooperation offer an effective and dynamic approach to support the SDGs. Therefore, FAO is keen to expand such cooperation between various state and non-state actors from the Global South in order to identify common problems, share experiences, and develop novel solutions which include the participation of youth and the civil society.”
FAO Strategic Programme Leader (Rural Poverty Reduction), Benjamin Davis, underlined the organisation’s role in supporting Member States in attaining the SDGs. Davis gave a critical analysis of the implications of rural transformations on poverty and food security.

“Inclusive rural transformation benefits the entire rural society, enabling all to exercise their economic, social and political rights, develop their abilities, and take advantage of local opportunities. While diversification of sources of income in rural areas captures agricultural transformation, it also includes the emergence of livelihood and income-generating opportunities in the rural non-farm sector,” said Davis.

Speaking at the end of the five-day meeting, Francesco Pierri, Policy Officer and Head of Advocacy Unit (DPSA) at FAO, said that the Policy Dialogue with SMAIAS has offered a precious opportunity for exchanging experiences and fostering collaborative research in developing countries on various areas of work related to FAO’s Strategic Framework. Pierri also said that “this first edition has touched upon critical themes in the context of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, such as the eradication of rural poverty, climate change and migration, land tenure and responsible investments as well as food security and nutrition.”