How can farmers organisations be even more integrated in shaping the food systems of tomorrow? At the invitation of the Andreas Hermes Academy (AHA), 30 representatives, mainly from African countries, discussed these and other issues.
The Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA) has stood for over 60 years for the comprehensive education and training of farmers in Germany. It strengthens their ability to take responsibility for themselves, their business and the community.
Farmers are the key stakeholders in food systems. At first glance, this seems obvious – after all, they are the ones who ensure the daily nutrition of almost 8 billion people around the world. Yet they are often underrepresented in policy debates on food systems. Individual family businesses do not have enough political weight to represent their interests vis-à-vis the government and the economy. Since all farms vary significantly in their structure, it can be difficult to reconcile them all. Farmers associations create an opportunity to collectively represent farmers of all farm sizes and try to make their voices heard on both the national and international stage.
From 03–06 April, around 30 representatives of farmers’ organisations, mainly from African countries, gathered to discuss their role in the transformation of food systems. After only meeting in online events and through other digital formats during the pandemic, the participants were finally able to return to meeting face to face and create new networks for the first time. The presidents and representatives of important supranational associations – including the World Farmers Organisation (WFO), the 5 regional federations of Africa (SACAU, EAFF, ROPPA, UMNAGRI and PROPAC), the Pan-African Farmers Organisation (PAFO) as well as many national associations of African countries and associations from Europe and America – exchanged views in task forces on the process and participation format of the UN Food System Summit (UN FSS): How does advocacy group work in complex international agendas? How can organised agriculture associations participate in the implementation of the UN FSS National Pathways? How can society and politics be bridged? And how can farmer organisations contribute to resilient and sustainable food systems?
‘Invite yourself’ became a slogan of the event.
Farmer organisations must not wait to be invited. A proactive approach – especially in the UN FSS process – is necessary to be able to shape the process. Elizabeth Nsimadala, the President of the East African Farmers’ Federation (EAFF), emphasised during the panel discussion:
‘We as farmers […] are the most important stakeholder when it comes to discussions around food’.
No dialogue on the transformation of food systems without farmers – This scope was demanded by a large part of the participating organisations at the UN FSS, but was not available to everyone. This makes it all the more important to monitor future implementation of the National Pathways. After the summit, the event participants made it their task to monitor the results of the national governments.
At a time when food prices are soaring, production resources are becoming scarce due to strained markets and the war in Ukraine, and climate change is contributing to increased hunger and poverty in many regions, the importance of democratically organised agriculture is increasing. Good representation of interests helps to shape the framework conditions for agricultural production. It is also possible that members benefit from the scale and network effects and that a contribution is made to resilient rural structures, be it through specific service and training programmes or through the provision of relevant information.
In this context, collaboration with academia still has great potential to support data-based reasoning and the development of targeted strategies. This is a great way to make a significant contribution to equal-opportunity agriculture and eradication of hunger and poverty. It is also important to maintain the awareness that food systems are currently receiving – the UN FSS was only the starting point of the transformation process.
Find the Link to the recording of the panel discussion here.
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