FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Regional Dialogues on the UNDFF


Leveraging the role of family farming towards more productive and resilient food systems in response to crises in the NENA region

Date: 19 May 2022

Time:  10:00 am – 01:00 pm Cairo Time

Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3LffzyE

Languages: English, Arabic, & French









The UN Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 (UNDFF) was launched on 29 May 2019 at FAO headquarters, Rome. The UNDFF aims to shed new light on what it means to be a family farmer in a rapidly changing world and highlights more than ever before the important role family farmers play in eradicating hunger and shaping our future of food. It serves as a framework for countries to develop public policies and investments to support family farming from a holistic perspective, unleashing the transformative potential of family farmers to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FAO and IFAD have been called to support the implementation[1] and established a joint FAO/IFAD Secretariat to facilitate this process under the guidance of an International Steering Committee composed by Member States and Family Farming Organizations.

The UNDFF leverages family farmers to promote an inclusive rural transformation that contributes to reducing rural poverty, generating and distributing wealth, creating decent jobs, starting-up and growing inclusive agri-food businesses where the environment is sustainably managed and the agricultural and food heritage is preserved. 

To this end, the UNDFF focuses on promoting strategies and interventions that grant family farmers access to natural and productive resources, information, markets, technology and innovation, thus addressing the multiple constraints that family farmers face in order to increase productivity and income, improve nutrition and livelihoods, while adapting to, and mitigating the impact of, climate change, sustainably managing natural resources and conserving biodiversity.

The Global Forum

After three years of implementation, the UNDFF can be seen as a robust engagement process involving a wide range of stakeholders, aimed at identifying and implementing concrete policies and measures in support of family farming.

To take stock of processes, activities and results in 2019 – 2021, the Global Forum of the UNDFF, co-organized by FAO-IFAD in their responsibility of leading UN agencies, will be held 19 to 22 September 2022. The event aims at leveraging the views of different relevant actors to better understand the successful experiences that can be the basis for knowledge sharing and dissemination of good practices; the main challenges faced in dealing with implementation in different contexts; and the policy areas and key topics that emerge as priorities to focus on for the next period of implementation.

The Regional Dialogues: Rationale

The Global forum will be preceded by Regional Dialogues, to be organized in collaboration with FAO and IFAD Regional Offices. The Regional Dialogues aim at giving all actors in the region the opportunity to connect, reinforcing multi-actor collaboration addressing emerging topics and context-specific key challenges on a regional scale towards the implementation of the UNDFF.

The format, structure and the thematic focus of each Regional Dialogues are decided in agreement with the FAO and IFAD Regional Offices, relevant family farmers’ organizations and other stakeholders from the region, to better tailor the event to each region’s specific needs and context.

Discussions held in the framework of the Regional Dialogues will be systematized and reported at relevant sessions of the Global Forum (19 -22 September), feeding the UNDFF way forward and capitalizing on the emerging key topics and priority areas discussed at the regional level.

The Regional dialogue on the UNDFF in the NENA Region

During the first three years of implementation of the UNDFF in the NENA region, significant results have been achieved: the Regional Action Plan for family farming in the region was the result of a joint FAO and IFAD effort to contextualize the UNDFF Global Action Plan to respond to regional challenges through a wide consultation process. The Plan has been validated and finalized, with the aim of providing a guidance for further implementation of the UNDFF at the national level.  The Country Studies on Small-Scale Family Farming (ISBN 978-92-5-109502-7, FAO) realized in different countries in the framework of the Regional Initiative on Small-scale Family farming, provided in-depth characterization, analysis and specific policy recommendations. In this study, it has been empathized that defining policies to support small-scale family farming by fighting poverty in agricultural households cannot be reduced to intensifying farming or stockbreeding practices. Policies should also focus on: (i) access to resources (water, land); (ii) sector organization, in order for a substantial portion of added value to remain with the small-farmers, (particularly with regard to diversified food products for which this type of agriculture has become a steward); (iii) collective organization of small-scale family farmers through cooperatives, associations, informal groups and the like, to enable them to access economies of scale for some of their activities (involving mechanization, supply, processing of agricultural produce, access to and management of common resources, and information) and to participate in social and political dialogue. Such policies should also be diversified to include: (iv) social policies (the right to retirement for older farmers, both men and women; access to quality education and healthcare, and other aspects), support for value systems (gender equality, child labour, access to cultural services); and (v) regional development policies (emergence of secondary towns, roads, social and cultural infrastructure in rural areas, safety for people and property). Effective targeting of these area-specific policies requires better information collection on the diversity of small-scale family farms, their sources of income, their performance and the strategies they develop.

In Tunisia, the government is collaborating with UTAP (Union Tunisienne de l’agriculture e de la pêche) and was supported by FAO to draft a National Action Plan (NAP) on Family Farming 2021-2028, which was formulated through a participatory process involving governmental entities and farmers’ organizations, among the others. The draft Plan is being finalized and is expected to go then through a validation and approval process.

Several family farming-relevant policies, laws and regulations have been developed and approved in the region(LEGAL PAPER 108; ISSN 2664-5777), with the aim to provide policy frameworks for rural development and to support family farmers facing the challenges posed by global crises in  the region: among others, the

Stratégie Génération Green 2020-2030 in Morocco and the National Agriculture Strategy (NAS) 2020 – 2025 in Lebanon were developed, both focusing on restoring and improving the livelihoods and productive capacities of farmers and producers, with a particular attention to youth and to improve climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies to increase resilience along the agri-food system.

Nevertheless, significant challenges arise or were exacerbated in the region due to the regional impact of global crises, such as impacts of the breakout of COVID-19 on family farmers’ livelihoods and the consequences of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine on the global food markets and food security. These global crises are interacting with the specific social, economic and environmental conditions in the region, and require tailored interventions to mitigate their impact and to strengthen family farmers’ resilience and contribution to food security and nutrition.

Starting from the assessment of these emerging priority topics and from the analysis of successful experiences  conducted in the region during the first three years of implementation of the UNDFF, the Regional Dialogue aims at stimulating a common reflection on how to leverage the role of family farming towards more productive and resilient food systems. The main outcomes of the discussion will be systematized and reported in the framework of the Global Forum in September 2022, as part of the technical discussions linked to the seven Pillars of work of the UNDFF Global Action Plan.


Tentative agenda and list of speakers





Moderator:  Mr. Guilherme Brady, Chief, Family farming Engagement and Parliamentary Networks Unit, FAO


Session 1 – Opening




-          Ms. Marcela Villarreal, Director, Partnerships and UN Collaboration Division, FAO


Welcoming remarks

Mr. Abdulhakim Rajab Elwaer, Assistant Director General/Regional Representative, Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa, FAO  


-          Ms. Dina Saleh, Regional Director Near East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia Division (NEN), IFAD


-          Ms. Jeehan Alostad, Alternate Permanent Representative of Kuwait to FAO, Vice-Chair of the International Steering Committee of the UNDFF



Setting the Scene - Progress towards UNDFF implementation in the NENA region

-          FAO Mr. Jean-Marc Faurès, Regional Programme Leader, FAO RNE



Strengthening family farmers organizations and collective action to face challenges and identify solutions

-          Ms. Rym Ferchichi, Chief Executive Officer, UMNAGRI (tbc)


Mapping of existing set of institutional, policy and legal frameworks targeted towards, or related to family farming in NENA

-          Mr. Marcello Scalisi, Director, Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED)(tbc)



All participants



Session 2 – Technical discussion: Priority topics and emerging solutions



Topic 1: Promoting participative policy dialogue for effective support to family farmers




National Action Plan for family farming in Tunisia: a participative policy dialogue at local and national level




Stratégie Génération Green 2020-2030 Morocco: strengthening the enabling environment in favour of rural youth and producers’ organizations


National Agriculture Strategy (NAS) 2020 – 2025 Lebanon - Pillar 5. Strengthening the enabling institutional environment in support of family farmers



-          Ms Nejia Hayouni, representative from the Ministry of Agriculture


-          Ms Manel Hedhli, Ingénieur Agroéconomiste, Union Tunisienne d'Agriculture et de Pêche (UTAP)



-          Mr. Said Fegrouche, Head of the International Cooperation Division at the Ministry of Agriculture, Morocco (tbc)




-          Ms. Wafaa Dikah Hamzeh, Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Lebanon  



Focused discussion

What are stakeholder engagements to ensure successful family farming transformation


Topic 2:  Reinforcing socio-economic inclusion and resilience to shocks




 Creating solidarity networks to support family farmers in times of crisis



Strengthening the participatory approach by integrating pastoral communities in the management of natural resources


Strengthening family farmers’ resilience to environmental degradation



-          Dr. Mohamed Elkaramany, Ph.D., MPP Director, EFB Growth Lab



-          Mr.  Saïd Fagouri, General Coordinator of the Arab Network of Pastoral Communities (PASTO-ARABIC) (tbc)



-          Dr. Muneer E. S. Eltahir, Institute of Gum Arabic Research and Desertification Studies, El Obeid, Sudan


Focused discussion

Key elements to strengthen small scale family farmers’ resilience to shocks 


Topic 3:  Diversification of markets and creation of economic opportunities for small scale family farmers




Strengthening capacity building and inclusive rural services to improve family farmers’ access to innovative markets


The potential of digital tools to face crisis and to increase economic opportunities for small-scale family farmers



Improving family farmers’ livelihoods and incomes by ensuring access to resources




-          Mr. Ibrahim El Dukhiri, Director General, Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD)



-          Mr. Kibrom A. Abay, Country Program Leader/Research Fellow in the Development Strategy and Governance Division, IFPRI




-          Mr.  Ahmed Sourani, Co-Founder & General Coordinator, Gaza Urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP)



Focused discussion

-          Guiding question:

How can the UNDFF framework best contribute to sustainable and inclusive rural transformation in the NENA region?


Which areas and mechanisms should be strengthened to leverage the UNDFF to enhance family farmers’ resilience and their contributions to sustainable agri-food systems in the region?


Session 3 - Key findings and the way forward to the Global Forum



Wrap up of the technical discussions: Key encountered challenges, lessons learned and emerging priorities


-          Mr. Guilherme Brady,Chief, Family farming Engagement and Parliamentary Networks Unit, FAO


Closing remarks






-          FAO Mr. Jean-Marc Faurès, Regional Programme Leader, FAO RNE


-          Ronald Thomas Hartman, Director, Global Engagement, Partnership and Resource Mobilization (GPR) Division, IFAD