International conference recognizes small-scale producer organizations as agents of resilience
The message came this week at the close of the International Conference for Sharing and Learning with Forest and Farm Producer Organizations, organised by the Vietnam Farmers’ Union (VNFU) and the FAO -hosted Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) from 22 to 26 September 2022.
Delegates from 32 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America – including government officials and forest and farm producer organization representatives – took part in the five-day long conference, held under the theme ‘Saving our Future: Investing in locally-led diversification for climate resilience and food security’.
The conference provided a common understanding of challenges faced by grassroots organizations and shared lessons learnt on developing climate-resilience business models, for example through the diversification of seeds, value chains, products, financing mechanisms and markets.
“When forest and farm producer smallholders come together to work collectively, they can be powerful agents of change,” said Ewald Rametsteiner Deputy Director of FAO’s Forestry Division.
The conference provided a rare opportunity for smallholders from all over the world, some from remote areas, to network, learn from each other and build a unified grassroots voice.
Collectively, 1.5 billion forest and farm smallholders supply at least one-third of the world’s food on just 12% of its agricultural land. But while total international climate finance for developing countries has exceeded US$70 billion annually since 2017, as little as 10% of global funds reach the local level, with just 1.7% accessible to locally controlled organisations.
Innovative finance models were an important subject of discussion during the event, and the conference heard from successful microfinancing programmes and indigenous territorial funds.
“The conference clearly recognized the need to direct sustainable financing, in the short and long term, to small-scale family farmers through their producer organizations in order to strengthen their role as advocates and service providers to their members, and to address crises,” said Sophie Grouwels, FAO country coach for FFF. “In addition, more must be done to help those organizations access global finance and boost climate resilience,” she added.
Recommendations from the conference, which were shared with the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) Global Forum, included a call to:
• enhance recognition of forest and farm producer organizations as the voice of family farmers, support their lobbying capacities, and provide evidence of their ability to deliver services to their members to address the climate crisis.
• include forest and farm producer organizations as key actors in policy formulation and implementation, and equal partners in the development of climate-financing mechanisms.
• implement legal and policy frameworks to strengthen land rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, and provide incentives for locally led diversification measures, agro-ecology and agroforestry practices, with a specific focus on women, youth and ethnic minorities.
• support forest and farm producer organizations to strengthen their internal organization and entrepreneurship skills so they can attract youth to agriculture and to revalorize traditional knowledge.
The Forest and Farm Facility is a partnership between FAO, IIED, IUCN and AgriCord, which provides support to local organizations, seeking to improve climate resilience and livelihoods.