AFA calls on governments to seriously end hunger and poverty in rural areas by putting farmers at the center of development

The following intervention was delivered by Soc Banzuela, national coordinator of PAKISAMA, AFA member in the Philippines, and alternate CSO-Asia representative to the GAFSP Steering Committee member (alternate), to a Ministerial Meeting of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) , held in Tokyo, Japan, last October 12, 2012, on the occasion of the World Bank’s Annual Meeting. AFA is the support organization of the GAFSP-CSO Asia representative.

“Good evening. AFA is a confederation of twelve national farmers federations in ten countries in three regions in Asia committed to sustainable rural development. I just have three points to say in this event.

Firstly, the urgency of ending hunger cannot be overemphasized given the scandalous magnitude of hungry people we still have. At the end of this hour-long conversation, another 1,040 people, mostly children of landless farmers from Subsahara and Asian countries will have died of hunger or hunger-related diseases. They are among the 870 million people, FAO reported two days ago, suffering hunger. 17 years ago, governments met in Rome in a World Food Summit and committed to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015 from 1990-92 figure which was 824 million. Today, we mourn and are angry. We did not halve but increase by another 46 million the number of hungry people in the world. The tragedy is that the available food in the world is more than enough to feed the population. We have 17 percent more calories per person today than we had 30 years ago despite 70% population increase. We all know the problem and the causes. Harmful economic and political systems and governance allow a few to continue to have control of land, seeds, technology at the expense of millions of farmers.We also know the solutions. There are models already like what Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and lately Vietnam have shown; like what European countries did when they put the farmers at the center of their agricultural and national development ensuring they are well organized into cooperatives or enterprise clusters, have land tenure security, and access to various agricultural inputs and markets. We thought GAFSP was set up to meaningfully and significantly catalyze the replication of these successful models in the developing world.

Secondly, acknowledging that strategic response to hunger and poverty is multi-pronged, GAFSP is one funding facility that requires a serious look given its design, current practice, and strategic potential. In terms of design, its being country-led and multi-stakeholder provide opportunities for projects to address the real issues of the farmers. In its governance, what struck me the most is its commitment to inclusion. Together with two other representatives of producer organizations from Africa and NGOs from Northern countries, I attended four Steering Committee meetings and was impressed by the way Board meetings were managed. The distinction of voting and non-voting members has never been invoked and we felt our voices as farmers and as NGOs were heard in a consensus-building process. We were happy that most of our asks have been responded adequately most important of which was the development of a Participation Guidelines as integral component to the Project Assessment Score card. We conducted 11 country missions to inform and prepare farmer organizations and NGOs and so far CSO platforms have been set up in four recipient countries in Asia and are excited to engage in the program.

Finally, the demand is so great but the supply of available fund is so low. We want to end hunger of 870 million people. Perhaps we all need the spirit of Spiderman. With great powers come great responsibility. Let us all help build the GAFSP fund. Thank you.

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