Parliamentary alliances

Creating an environment for family farmers to thrive

©FAO/Vasily Maximov

Parliamentarians meet to identify policy solutions

08/12/2020 - 

Rome - Family farming has the potential to lead the world in a transformation towards more sustainable, healthy and nutritious food and agricultural systems. In a world where hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, family farming can be part of the solution. However, this will require sound policies, investments and institutional frameworks that adequately support family farmers.  
Building an enabling environment for family farmers means that there are adequate resources in place, and that governance and institutional arrangements are effective and inclusive. Parliamentarians, with their legislative, budgetary and oversight responsibilities, are uniquely positioned to contribute to the foundations of this environment.  
From November 26-27, parliamentarians from nearly 30 countries joined other development actors for the Modular Training Program on Public Policy Cycles for Family Farming (MTP). The first of a series of global capacity development tools created by FAO and IFAD in the framework of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF), the training program is designed to assist actors in navigating policy processes at local, national, regional, or global levels, and is flexible enough to address the diverse needs of family farmers across the globe.
The MTP supports Pillar 1 of the UNDFF Global Action Plan, ‘Develop an enabling policy environment to strengthen family farming’. Over two days, participants worked to identify policies and programs that could be developed at multiple levels to address the economic, environmental, and social concerns of family farmers and their communities. The chance to share experiences across countries and regions was welcomed by the participants - the Hon. Alberto Fabra, Senator of the Cortes Generales of Spain, called for cooperation and knowledge sharing to be strengthened among countries as a way to remove inequalities.  
Participants from all regions considered the many opportunities and challenges that exist for family farmers, and discussed the important role parliamentarians can play to empower and engage family farmers - particularly younger farmers - in an inclusive and participatory way. They affirmed the importance of participatory policy processes as essential to guarantee impact, as well as the need for stronger partnerships and greater collaboration between sectors.   
A parliamentary roundtable offered participants to share experiences from their own countries. The Hon. Teresa Calix, Deputy of Honduras, stressed the need to ensure access to credit for family farmers and to develop legal frameworks which would be accompanied by a specific budget for sustainable and continuous implementation. In Honduras, for example, the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger facilitates collaboration between the government, family farmers, and FAO.  
Hon. Faustin Boukoubi, Chair of the National Assembly of Gabon, emphasized the importance of ensuring cross-cutting and multi-sectoral legislation. Participants agreed that public policies to support family farmers should be based on the multi-dimensionality of family farming, taking into account a wide range of issues such as gender, youth, climate change, resilience, nutrition, agroecology, territorial development and digitalisation. Policies that fostered innovation and the use of information and communications technology were especially important -  Her Excellency Dr. Jehad Abdullah Mohammed Alfadhel, Deputy Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Network for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa and the Arab World, stressed the need for policies to support access not only to agricultural resources, but also modern technology.
Parliamentarians from all regions emphasized the crucial role national parliaments can play in supporting family farmers to combine traditional, local knowledge with innovation in order to build more sustainable food systems. The training represented a first step towards designing policies which support family farmers - participants left the workshop ready to formulate, implement and monitor such policies in their own countries and regions.