Feb 5, Quezon City, Philippines – In usual ways, the future of agriculture is shaped by the views of the international community, and organisations from advanced/emerging countries, many times with limited involvement of family farmers and their organizations. These futures usually address global issues. The processes of determining the futures, called foresight, oftentimes have limited application to local development.
However, there is a desire and a need for farmers and their organizations to also shape the future they want. How can foresight processes be more farmer-led, farmer-managed, and be more applicable to local developmental processes; and in so doing help empower farmers determine their future?
It is this question and need that prompted the Asian Farmers Association (AFA), with the support of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), to embark on a project that will implement local grassroots initiatives, to be piloted in three local areas, in three countries.
AFA, with the support of GFAR, is currently conducting a “regional training workshop to implement grassroots foresight initiative”. The workshop is being held in Manila since Feb 2, and will run till Feb 6. Participants are 8 local trainers from India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Running on its fourth day today, the participants were able to already identify forces that can directly influence change as well as the resulting drivers of change through a simulation exercise.
The pilot areas for the grassroots foresight work and implementing partner organizations include: Central Himalayan region of India by INHERE (Institute of Himalayan Environmental Resources and Education), southern Palawan in Philippines by PAKISAMA, and in East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia by API (Aliansi Petani Indonesia).
Ireneo Cerilla, a farmer from Quezon, Philippines has found an innovative use of social media to help other farmers in his province and in the country.
He posted a photo of a “kulisap” (pest) called brontispa on his Facebook wall, with the following caption (translated from Filipino):
“This is the pest brontispa, which eats the coconut shoots while they are still white. Once the leaves fully develop, they are already brown and have no capacity for photosynthesis. The leaves then appear like mere sticks, and the coconut, known as the ‘tree of life,’ slowly dies.”
By sharing the photo and the information about the pest, he hopes other farmers will become more aware and take proactive measures to counter the pest.
Cerilla is also the president of PAKISAMA, a national federation of farmers in the Philippines, which is a member of AFA.
PAKISAMA trains its members on various sustainable agroecological pratices.
Promoting the 2015 International Year of Soils, AFA, La Via Campesina, ANFPa and PIFON, with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), have produced a calendar for the Asia Pacific Farmers’ Forum (also known as MTCP2), copies of which have been distributed to national implementing agencies (NIAs) of the program.
In line with the IYS theme of “Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life,” the calendar emphasizes that “The soil is a living system which sustains humanity. Family farmers keep the soils healthy and fertile through sustainable, agro ecological and organic approaches. Land is life, livelihood and culture. Respect, promote, protect and fulfill the family farmers’ rights to their lands and forests.”
It calls for support to family farmers in Asia and Pacific to help them unleash their potentials for poverty reduction, food sovereignty and nutrition security.
MTCP2 regional implementing agencies Asian Farmers Association (AFA) and La Via Campesina (LVC) have designed and implemented a re-orientation and training program on monitoring and evaluation (M&E), knowledge management (KM) and financial management (FM) for the project’s National Implementing Agencies (NIAs).
The program was conducted in each of the three sub-regions (Southeast Asia, South Asia and Pacific) from December last year to January this year.
The workshop was intended to respond to a recommendation during the MTCP2 expanded regional steering committee meeting last October 2014 to harmonize and level off on MTCP2’s systems and tools in planning, monitoring, evaluation, finance and knowledge management.
At the end of the training, participants from all MTCP2 implementing agencies at national, sub-regional and regional levels were able to finalize their 2015 Qualitative Targets 2015-2018 as well as 2015 annual work plan and budget; and have clearer understanding of MTCP2 implementation and reporting formats.
They also experienced hands-on training on filling out M&E forms, as well as on online tools, knowledge sharing techniques, and photo and video documentation.
Small scale family farmers face big challenges. They have to increase yields to produce more for society. But in so doing, they must provide nutritious food, increase their incomes, adapt to the changing climate, protect their ecosystem and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Small scale family farmers have a response to these challenges: sustainable, agro-ecological and inclusive approaches to agriculture and agro-based enterprises with them through their organizations.
This, in summary, was the key message delivered by AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia during a panel session on “Ensuring Global Food Security” held last January 23 on the occasion of the 2015 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
In her intervention, Ms. Penunia outlined some features of sustainable agriculture:
-production technologies that improve and enhance the soil’s health, use organic materials and nutrients, promote biodiversity, reduce wastage and promote nutrient recycling, promote diversification and integration, build on local knowledge and wisdom and allow farmers to continuously innovate;
-marketing and distribution systems that are economically rewarding: fair and good price for their products, adequate access to finance, markets and information, increasing participation in processing their products; and,
-farmers are strongly organized into associations and cooperatives along geographical and commodity lines and they are empowered to engage governments, businesses in policy and program formulation and implementation as well as in managing their own organizations and enterprises.
To be inclusive, she emphasized that women and men farmers, through their organizations, should have significant participation in decision making processes of the businesses, including setting prices, contracts, and valuation of their labor and production costs, as well as appropriate sharing of risks and benefits
Panelists to the session included Mr. Ertharin Cousins, Executive Director of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP); Shenggen Fen, Director General of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); David McLennan, President and CEO of Cargill USA; and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya. The session was moderated by David Nabarro, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition.
The panelists agreed that food security policies for the future should focus on partnerships with the private sector, governments and farmers cooperatives and associations, with the latter being recognized as equal partners.
The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) supports the march of coconut farmers in the Philippines under the coalition “KILUS Magniniyog” in order to campaign for the establishment of a 71 billion-peso coconut farmers’ trust fund.
Composed of 10 national farmers’ federations in the Philippines, the coalition was formed on July 1-2, 2014 in order to aggregate and represent the interest of the coconut farmers who have suffered a grave injustice for several decades.
The march started on September 21, 2014 and will cover 1,750 kilometers over 71 days from Davao City south of the Philippines to the President’s office in Malacanang in Manila in the north.
The coco levy fund was collected from coconut farmers over a nine-year period (1973-1982) under the Marcos dictatorship, purportedly for the development of the coconut industry.
The coconut farmers, estimated at 3.5 million, are among the poorest in the country, earning only 18,000 thousand pesos per year, mostly as wages from farm work as many of them are landless.
AFA member PAKISAMA is one of the farmer organizations in the KILUS Magniniyog coalition and its farmer leaders are among those who are marching.
We call on our partners to support the farmers in their march for justice.
Solidarity statements can be sent to the coconut farmers through firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.
Bogor, Jakarta – The Indonesian Organic Alliance or Aliansi Organis Indonesia (AOI), together with the Indonesian Peasant Alliance or Alliansi Petani Indonesia (API), in cooperation with the city government of Bogor, launched the 4th Bogor Organic Fair (BOF) and IYFF celebration last November 14.
The organic fair is a yearly event started in 2011, which aims at generating public awareness on the benefit of organic products. For 2014, the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), API took the opportunity to integrate the celebration of IYFF with the annual Bogor Organic Fair.
Various organic farmer producers including the members of AOI, API and its partner Bina Desa, as well as other CSOs, showcased their organic products in Sempur, a public park in the center of Bogor City. The opening ceremony was graced by IFOAM president Mr. Andrew Leu. API Secretary General Mr. Nuruddin, AOI president Mr. Wahyudi and Bogor Vice City Mayor Engr. Usmar Hariman.
Mr. Nuruddin highlighted the situation of family farming in Indonesia and encouraged the government to support small-scale farmers to enhance their production of local and organic products. Mr. Leu pointed out that with the big population in Indonesia, there is a huge potential demand for organic products, which serves as a good opportunity for farmers to shift to organic farming.
At the end of the first day of the fair, the women farmers of API were happy because they were able to sell their products and meet new contacts who are interested to buy their products.
Bogor, Indonesia – AFA attended the regional conference on policies for food security between OECD and ASEAN held last November 11-12, 2014 at Hotel Salak, Bogor, Indonesia. AFA was represented by its policy advocacy officer, Ms. Lany V. Rebagay. The main objective of the conference was to provide a venue for exchange of policy experiences between OECD, ASEAN countries and international organizations in the region, with a special focus on food security. The conference also hoped to identify knowledge gaps and issues, on which the OECD could make a contribution in the region, and facilitate the exchange with regional partners.
During the conference, the newly endorsed ASEAN Integrated Framework for Food Security-Strategic Plan for Action for Food Security 2015-2020 (AIFS-SPA-FS) was presented. Ms. Rebagay acknowledged the goals of AIFS-SPA-FS which include the improvement of livelihood of small-scale farmers. She further reminded the delegates that small-scale farmers in the ASEAN region have been recognized as one of the key main investors in agriculture and should therefore be considered as key stakeholders in any discussions on food security. She added that ASEAN member states’ efforts like the provision of a multi-quality price policy or differentiated purchase price for quality rice in Indonesia should be implemented to encourage small-scale farmers to continue producing healthy and organic rice which is good both for the consumers and the environment as well.
The differentiated purchase price policy was recently approved based on strong advocacy by CSOs particularly the organized small-scale farmers including AFA’s member Aliansi Petani Indonesia (API) together with other farmers group like Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI) and WAMTI composing the Farmers Forum / platform supported by the Medium Term Cooperation Program Phase 2 (MTCP2) funded by IFAD and SDC.
Ms. Rebagay also reiterated the need for support for community-based food reserves system including rice and seed banks as important initiatives to ensure food self-sufficiency and ensure resilience amidst climate change. In addition, the need to encourage young farmers to engage in sustainable farming was also emphasized particularly as one important sustainability factor for ensuring availability of nutritious food for all.
“The challenge to the international community and to decision makers at all levels of society is to work with family farmers, through their farmers organizations… Communication for Development is key to enable social inclusion and put forward our own development agenda.”
(AFA Vice Chairperson and staff and AFFM president participated in the meeting. The consortium of AFA and La Via Campesina is regional implementing agency of MTCP2.)
Hanoi, Vietnam, 20 October 204 – Farmer organizations implementing the Medium Term Cooperation Program Phase Two (MTCP2) in Asia and the Pacific gather at the Saigon Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 20-22 to celebrate gains in the first year of implementation of a trailblazing program to strengthen their capacities to engage in policy dialogues and deliver services to their members, discuss some issues and prepare future plans of action.
AFA joined other farmer organizations implementing the Medium Term Cooperation Program Phase Two (MTCP2) in Asia and the Pacific in celebrating gains in the first year of implementation of a trailblazing program to strengthen their capacities to engage in policy dialogues and deliver services to their members, discuss some issues and prepare future plans of action. (See Annex: Asia Pacific farmer organizations celebrate gains of cooperation program in Hanoi meeting)
Committee on Food Security (CFS) Side event on Forests and Family Farming for food Security and Nutrition (16 October 2014, Rome)
AFA co-organized a side event with FAO Forestry Department and Forest and Farm Facility together with the Indigenous Partnership for Agro-biodiversity and Food Sovereignty. AFA was represented by Mr. Lyam Bahadur Darjee, a farmer leader and Secretary-General of National Land Rights Forum (NLRF), who shared his experience and reflections of a Nepali Farmer on Agro-Forestry Based Farming for Food and Nutrition Security. The discussion during the side event highlighted the interconnectedness of forests and farms at the landscape level as well as the important role of forests and trees in family farming and food security through the direct provision of nutritious food and by maintaining sustainable agriculture systems for ensuring sustainable livelihoods.
AFA Marketing and Enterprise Development Officer Victoria Serrato represented AFA in the regional dialogue organized by WOCAN and its partners. The dialogue focused on understanding the current debates on women inclusion/exclusion at the regional and international levels, building communities of practice and promoting women’s inclusion and gender equality in debates around the future role of women and the value of forests in relation to food, fuel and fiber and contributing to regional approaches of “The Forests Dialogue in Asia and International.” AFA shared the existing mechanisms on how women are included in the processes and the assessment of the role of women involvement in the sustainable enterprise and agriculture value chain. In addition, AFA was able to build new networks/linkages with other CSOs in Asia and beyond, and with community-based forest and management networks and learned from their experiences that can be used as input in developing tools and technical support in the implementation of the Forest and Farm Facility project.
Empowering small scale women and men farmers in Asia