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World Agricultures Watch

The World Agriculture Watch (WAW) is a technical observatory that aims at improving the understanding and use of “agricultural diversity” and “rural transformations” to inform and facilitate policy dialogue. 

WAW addresses the options for appropriate agricultural policies that combine multifaceted aspects, highlighting the role of local and global policy (governance processes) based on the types of agricultural holdings, which range from small or poor family-based farms to large corporation or enterprises.

In March 2011, in collaboration with IFAD, France and CIRAD, the WAW secretariat was established in FAO, as an International Initiative gathering different partners. WAW responds to country requests, seeking to strengthen the capacities to monitor and assess agricultural transformations and foster the adoption of resulting policies that reduce rural poverty.

WAW actions target at the acceleration of the successful delivery to the smallholder farmers located at the margins of the established national agricultural and rural development polices, with arrangements for the identification of innovative policy approaches, especially in the current scenario when agriculture is going through swift transformations that influence the farms’ capacities to respond to global drivers (climate change, biodiversity conservation, sustainable land management, etc.) expressed nationally by food insecurity, low employment and poverty. 

WAW’s portfolio of products and services includes: 

  • a common international methodological framework and technical assistance to assess and monitor the typologies of farms and their transformations;
  • a policy dialogue facilitation process among stakeholders at the national and regional levels (including South–South cooperation), especially through face-to-face technical meetings; and
  • an international platform to raise awareness of agricultural diversity and rural transformations through joint publications, a dedicated website, and events. The platform also enables partner countries to increase their visibility and valorize their work on the international scene.

Context of actions

Today’s changing and globalized world embraces agricultural transformations that will need to adequately respond to the demands of the next generations of farmers, to such a degree that they will need to be able to meet the multiple societal expectations in terms of sustainable development on food security and nutrition, economic growth, poverty reduction, employment generation, and social and environmental sustainability. 

According to FAO, family farms are the largest source of investments in agriculture and have shown an ability to be competitive and sustainable, but need appropriate enabling environments to sustainably increase performance.

Growing global concern about food security and environmental degradation has focused attention on the need for rural transformations. There is ongoing debate about the capacity of various types of rural holdings – from small-scale to large-scale – to respond to global challenges such as food insecurity, unemployment, environmental degradation and climate change. Rural transformations may be needed when existing types of rural holdings have limited capacity to respond to such challenges.

Formulating and implementing effective public policies requires multistakeholder dialogue and an strong understanding of the evolving characteristics of different types of rural holdings and their contributions to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. At stake is the structure of agriculture for the next generation of farmers – including the place and roles of family farmers and the types of policies and investments needed to achieve sustainable transformations.

Partner countries

El Salvador, Madagascar, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Viet Nam