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Major Groups: Farmers Statement

“Agriculture: The Centre Link of Sustainable Development Trinity”

14.10.2011 |WECF news

Farmers represent 1/3 of the world’s population, 1/2 of its poor, and over 8oo million of the hungry. As the planet’s primary ecosystem managers, farmers are best placed to ensure sustainable development and contribute to a green economy.

However, there is a concern that today’s agricultural policy and governance fall short of contributing to sustained food security, eradicating poverty and catalyzing sustainable rural development. Yet African countries are primarily agricultural economies with 70% of the population engaged in agriculture. Despite its importance to the economy (contributes about 30% or more to GDP), African governments continue to under invest in it, not allocating the CAADP’s recommended 10% of the national budgets.

Recent studies show that, current industrial/intensive agricultural systems contribute 43-57% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: production, processing and packaging, transport, land-use change and deforestation.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Science, Knowledge and Technology for Development (IAASTD, 2009), analysed the merits, short comings and challenges of agriculture in Africa. Based on its findings, the assessment recommends a transition from a conventional/industrial to multifunctional, resilient, and sustainable agricultural systems.

What should be advocated at Rio+20?
The Rio+20 conference should advocate for a paradigm shift towards strengthening people-centred, humane and sustainable agricultural systems (farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists) that are resilient to climate change, enhance animal welfare, improve food sovereignty in Africa and benefit the livelihood of millions of farmers and their families. Ecologically friendly agricultural systems have enormous potential in contributing in all of the three pillars of sustainable development (i.e. economic, social and environmental). They contribute to people’s well being and the integrity of the natural resources and ecosystems services, which essential important life support systems.

What are the actions to be taken at Rio+20?
African Governments should:
  1. Push for mandating an International organisation (e.g., UNEP or FAO) to collaborate with NEPAD to propose actions to implement sustainable agriculture and systems based on the findings of the IAASTD and other agroecological initiatives.
  2. Advocate for an Intergovernmental, participatory, multi-stakeholder panel to regularly review, agricultural knowledge, science and technology and to assess strategies by different actors including farmers, technological advancements, policies and measures and governance structures at international, regional and national levels to enhance food security and rural development and minimize adverse effects.
  3. Support green economies by focusing on economic and social systems that foster farmers’ rights including social participation; social justice and equity and gender equality; protect ecosystems; create jobs for the youths, create economic and food sufficiency; respect the rights of all culture and wisdom of indigenous peoples and local communities; safeguard animal welfare and conserve biodiversity for future generations, while stressing that green economy does not replace sustainable development.
  4. Support bio-diverse ecological agriculture employed by small holder farmers and rural women, as asserted by the 2010 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, as key to food security that ensures their right to food, protects the environment and is economically and ecologically feasible.
  5. Acknowledge and support the significant livestock sub-sector and humane and sustainable livestock production systems to the Green Economy in Africa. The livestock sector will be a key part of the green economy, providing hundreds of millions their livelihoods; and also impacting on the biodiversity, climate, water and land use.
  6. Support a strong Extension Service to facilitate and help adaptation not only to climate change but for more efficient use of water, soil management, appropriate technologies and new knowledge along with larger investments into agriculture and rural infrastructure budgets of the Governments to ensure services to farmers.
  7. Strengthen and empower farmer organizations to access skill development opportunities, information on appropriate technology, credit, inputs and outputs markets and remunerative prices.
  8. Ensure farmers and indigenous people are included in all decision making processes on land, water, forest, territories and other resources.
  9. Demand Food sovereignty and not corporate dependency to achieve food security. We want to retain the right and ability to define our agricultural and food policies to protect:
  • The rights of the vulnerable in our society, especially women farmers to
(i) Choose what to produce and how to produce it
(ii) Have ownership of land on which to produce food
(iii) Have access to and control of self regenerating planting materials
(iv) Have access to water as a public good.
(v) Choose what to consume and how and by whom it is produced
  • The local markets from cheap food imports which depress prices.
Major Group Members
  1. Dr. David M. Amudavi –  Biovision Africa Trust (BVAT)
  2. Stephen Chacha – World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
  3. Dr. Charles Kimwele – World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
  4. Stefanie Keller – Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development
  5. Solomon Desalegu – Prosperity Ethiopia
  6. Diana Bronson – ETC Group, Canada
  7. Sue Edwards – Institute for Sustainable Development
  8. Mihret Techlemaliam – Bioeconomy Africa
  9. George Ndungu – Organization of African Youth
10. Margaret Kurumbu – Youth Alive! Kenya
11. Lucy Mulenkei – Indigenous Information Network

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