2014 may have been the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), but for the scientists, researchers, academics, policy makers, rural advisors, educators and civil society and farmers’ groups who come together in the Global Forum, every single day is focussed on how research and innovation can best meet the needs of resource-poor smallholder and family farmers.
Here are some highlights from the GFAR 2014 Annual Report where GFAR made a difference, through partnership, collective advocacy, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building across the globe.
Civil Society voices
In Asia, Africa and Latin America, for instance, farming organizations and the agricultural research for development community are coming together to undertake the kind of forward-thinking – or foresight – that will lead to better research and more effective policies for equitable and sustainable development. The 3rd Foresight Exchange Workshop, held in Montpellier in June, alongside the GFAR-supported International Encounters “Family Farming & Research”, resulted in a comprehensive action plan for a Grassroots Foresight Initiative, supported by GFAR through the Global Foresight Hub.
Climate change is a critical issue for small-holder farmers. This year GFAR enabled the participation of civil society in preparatory work for the Climate Summit in New York and in the ongoing discussions around the establishment of the Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture. In the interests of truly equitable partnerships, it is essential that such perspectives are included in considering these vital development issues.
During the year GFAR launched new training materials on Farmers Rights to plant genetic resources. These innovative training guides were prepared in partnership with farmer and civil society organizations in Guatemala, and have now resulted in changes in national policies to better reflect Farmers Rights. This approach is now being rapidly scaled-out in Latin America and Africa.
Women and youth
The future of agriculture depends on addressing the needs of the farmers of today – many of whom are women – and the agriculturalists of tomorrow, who need sound skills and viable careers. Two GFAR-supported initiatives, Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP) and the Young Professionals in Agricultural Development (YPARD) continued to grow from strength to strength during the year.
Information and communications technology (ICT) holds tremendous promise in building new skills and capacities of family farmers. GFAR was a major sponsor of the Agrifuture Days 2014 International Conference and supported the e-Agriculture Community of Practice to host two major e-discussions on ICTs and Family Farming. The Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) – one of six Regional Fora in GFAR – supported the promotion of a unique initiative in India that is bringing the benefits of digital technology to farmers and improving the quality of life in rural communities across the country.
All in all, it has been another busy and productive year for the Global Forum and its partners. The Chair of the GFAR Steering Committee has expressed his thanks to the GFAR Secretariat which has acted as a catalyst for many of these activities, and to the GFAR’s Steering and Executive Committees which have continued to guide the Forum.
Most importantly, thanks needs to be extended to the many stakeholders and investors in GFAR – without their commitment and support the Global Forum and its work simply would not exist.
To find out more about GFAR’s activities in 2014 – download the GFAR 2014 Annual Report.