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World Farmers Markets Coalition

Inaugural General Assembly



Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

22 May 2023


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues,


I am pleased to be addressing you today.


Small-scale farms account for 84% of all farms worldwide and produce approximately 35% of the world's food – for this reason they are critical for the transformation of global agrifood systems.


A transformation to ensure they become more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable.


Yet, despite their crucial role, small-holders face numerous challenges in sustaining and improving their income, and are often caught in cycles of poverty and food insecurity.


One significant challenge that hinders their livelihoods is their limited access to profitable markets, both domestic and international.


Large processors and retailers are strong players in current agrifood systems, and they often fail to provide equal opportunities and fair remuneration to small-scale producers - leaving vulnerable communities behind.


In recent years, shorter, more localized and transparent food supply chains have highlighted their potential to create inclusive, ethical, healthy, and sustainable agrifood systems that provide decent work for producers.


Territorial markets, where small-holders typically operate, generate important off-farm income opportunities to the rural poor, especially to rural women and youth.


Farmers’ markets are similar and complementary to territorial markets as they are anchored in the territory and can contribute to multiple economic, social, cultural, and ecological functions in a specific area, by focusing on direct interactions between producers and consumers.


Thereby reducing transaction costs and increasing bargaining power, while catalyzing new business opportunities, and also safeguarding crop biodiversity.


Inclusivity is a key aspect for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


It is crucial to promote farmers’ markets’ practices that advance the inclusion of vulnerable communities and facilitate their full participation.


Consumers are increasingly aware of the processes behind food products, seeking to address concerns related to healthy diets and the environment, as well as social, cultural, and economic aspects.


For this reason, we need to recognize the key role of consumer organizations in creating a demand for farmers' markets, and in promoting their establishment and expansion.


Farmers’ markets can play an active role and can contribute to agrifood systems transformation by:

  • Enhancing inclusivity,
  • Promoting healthy diets,
  • Increasing local production,
  • Supporting territorial and landscape development,
  • Encouraging collective action and collective economic operations,
  • Ensuring efficient governance, and
  • Fostering innovation.


In addition, they also have the potential to make agrifood systems more resilient by contributing to food safety, mitigating food loss, promoting environmental sustainability and adding value to local identity and food heritage.


FAO is committed to support the World Farmers Markets Coalition, in line with the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 in support of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, to achieve our collective goal of the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all - leaving no one behind.


Before closing, I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Italy for the loss of lives due to the floods in the Emilia-Romagna region. This extreme weather event has once again highlighted the fragility of our countryside and the livelihoods of people.


Thank you.