Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: The future of Family Farming: empowerment and equal rights for women and youth

Susan Carlson
Susan CarlsonWorld Farmers OrganisationUnited States of America

Thank you for this opportunity to contribute to this vital conversation.  At the World Farmers Organisation we have been 'walking the talk' by forming committees within the organization of women and youth.  Not only do we have these two standing committees, but WFO also strives to include both women and youth in leadership positions within the organization.  There are several areas of concern listed above as we look toward our world's growing population, our aging farmers, the injustices many women farmers face, and how to encourage the next generations to be farmers and agricultural contributors that WFO continually strives to address.  The first thing we need to remember is to listen to what the women farmers need.  There is no one size-fits all solution, and our goal is to seek concrete solutions to share with our members.  We seek contributions of best practices and case studies which we share on our website.  We seek stories and information from our members of what roadblocks they may be facing and how we can connect them with others who have experienced and faced similar situations--being a catalyst of change is a helpful empowerment tool we offer women farmers.  Women's role in their family's farms is crucial.  In many cases women are the farmers, yet for many cultural and other reasons do not have access to land tenure, to knowledge, basic infrastructure needs, to finance, to markets, to leadership opportunities.  As farmers we need to have a profit.  Farmers invest in their family farms more than any other sector invests in agriculture, yet we have few guarantees of profitability.  So with 70% of U.S. farmers to retire within the next 20 years and the average age of African and America's farmers currently at approximately 55 years old, how can we ensure the youth, especially those who have grown up on farms and learned so many valuable skills, stay on the farms?  How do we encourage those who've not grown up on farms to view agriculture as a viable career and lifestyle?  First, there needs to be profitablity.  We need to strengthen local, national and international family farm policies.  Farmers are more than food producers--they are stewards of the land, they are artists and innovators, they are entrepeneurs, they are creative problem solvers, they are committted, they work to get the job done. Farmers must have a free and open market; concentration of buyers are a big concern.  We must make sure that agricultural investments being offered are what family farmers want-- is it beneficial to them.  Investment in family farmings is important to improve food security, social and enviornmental stability and safeguard livelihoods for the majority.  We need to guarantee farmer control of production resources, land and water. We need to build strong markets for farm producers.  We need to invest in research that meets needs of family farmers.  We need to invest in human capital--training in financial management and farm management.  We need more women to be extension agents and farm trainers.  Once we have a profit for family famers we can be sustainable and improve farms.  But let's not forget the investment we need is in the farmer and their extraordinary ability.  Women farmers have exceptional abilities to not only improve their farm production, but also seek ways to improve the lives of their children through education, health care, nutritional needs.  We need to ensure that being a farmer for both women/girls and men/boys is a dignified and important career.  We see in the U.S. the increased value society is placing on food, where and how it is grown, and putting a farmer's face to this highly nutritious produce.  We all need to eat and should remember--no farmers, no food, no future.  Let's all work together to ensure family farmers--all units of that family no matter the gender or age, are vital to ensuring our world's food security.