Saturday, November 26, 2011

Call for improvement in the lives and livelihoods of farmers while reducing the footprint of farming

By Rio + 20 Secretariat

The Farmers Major Group Submission to the Rio +20 zero draft document makes several calls to action in relation to agriculture and green economy

One of them is the need to use a knowledge-based approach of best practices that sustain production and minimize the negative impacts of farming activities on the environment.Committing to increasing support for participatory approaches to farmer-to-farmer training, and participatory extension systems. Modern extension services must increase their capacity for two-way information sharing – between experts in research and farmers themselves who have essential information on farming. Research and extension should be functionally linked and there should be pluralism in the approaches to implementing this form of education. Mobilisation of the scientific, donor, business, NGO, and farmer communities are needed to improve knowledge sharing. Recruiting, training, and retaining young people to farming and agricultural sciences is essential.

They also call for development of new approaches to reward farmers for ecosystem services that also foster sustainability and address poverty by enabling smallholder farmers to break the subsistence cycle and include women farmers in these approaches.

The Farmer's submission also calls for action to ensure small scale food producers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, peasants and the rural poor are provided with enhanced access to information as a basis for decision-making; access to justice; and free, prior and informed consent for both policy development and implementation actions on the ground, including issues that pose a threat to local food security and tenurial rights such as land-grabbing.

In relation to Agriculture and the Green Economy, the submission notes that all three aspects of sustainable development – social, economic, and environmental – remain equally important. The goal must be to: continuously improve agriculture around the world through knowledge sharing to improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers while reducing the footprint of farming.

The social aspect

Achieving Millennium Development Goal #1 of alleviating poverty and hunger demands a focus on agriculture to:
- Develop policies with farmer-centered approaches;
- Understand, analyze, and appreciate the knowledge of farmers at the local level;
- Focus research on farmers’ needs and involve participatory processes with farmers;
- Popularize new policies, extension programs, practices and technologies to beneficiaries in their languages and considering the farmers’ level of education;
- Ensure that investments made in agriculture must be beneficial to local communities;
- Develop special, culturally-sensitive programs for women smallholder farmers and indigenous communities;
- Engage youth in current social and economic transformations, including farming;
- Increase access to health and social services in remote areas;
- Fight against all kinds of social inequalities.

The economic aspect

Considering the fact that farmers feed the planet and contribute to the world economy, it is shocking that they are the first victims of food insecurity and chronic poverty. Accordingly, policy makers must:

- Empower farmers in organizational frameworks and encourage them to organise in marketing groups;
- Evaluate agricultural improvement not only in terms of production but also in terms of farmers’ income indicators;
- Analyze and take care of their decisions’ impact on local farmers;
- Consider the impact of the agricultural sector on national economies, and allocate budget to this sector matched with its real value;
- Reduce administrative costs of agricultural programs so that beneficiaries can benefit from them;
- Ensure international and regional markets don’t impede local ones;
- Develop infrastructure in rural areas where agriculture is done.

The environmental aspect

It is vital to safeguard our natural resources such as land, water, air, forests, animals and others. So, human beings have to:
- Control exploitation of natural resources;
- Increase resource efficiency, particularly of nutrients and water;
- Create a better collaboration with farmers, the scientific world and environmental policy makers;
- Use practices which improve our biodiversity, soil quality, and watershed management;
- Encourage breeding and production of underutilized crops;
- Foster sustainable and humane livestock management and encourage good animal husbandry;
- Focus research on new practices which address climate change, sequester and store carbon in the soil and reduce releases from waste materials and energy sources;
- Clearly explain environmental issues in easy terms understandable by a farmer;
- Regularly inform farmers on weather conditions to allow them to plan their farming activities accordingly;
- Respect equity and equality principles on natural resources use and benefits.


1 comment:

  1. While perhaps not as "sexy" as developing the next generation of smart phones, the agriculture business is in the enviable position of never having to worry about being obsolete- we will always need to eat.