CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis, together the world’s largest development alliance, working with communities impacted by the food crisis across Asia, Africa and Latin America, travel to Rome for next week’s World Food Summit to call on world leaders to harness the potential of small-scale farmers. The catholic alliances believe urgent action is needed now; every day over a billion people go to bed hungry and currently over 23 million people across East Africa are in need of emergency food aid due to drought and a food price crisis made worse by the global economic recession. Since the global food crisis hit in 2007 there is increasing recognition by governments of the need to invest in small-scale agriculture in developing countries to ensure that small producers earn a decent income and enjoy the universal right to food.
“This is a very positive development, but recognition needs to be translated into national country policies and donor support strategies that promote small producer organisations and strengthen their ability to improve production, processing, and marketing - including their capacity to negotiate with buyers and other market actors. The Summit leaders should particularly prioritise farmer’s engagement in policy development, their access to land and water, inputs, credit, insurance, markets, training and extension services,” said Bob van Dillen, from the CIDSE and Caritas networks. However, there is a significant threat that the international community will promote the use of high-tech agricultural techniques, many of which are socially or environmentally unsustainable and create dependence on external inputs, rather than investing in what these farmers really need. The World Food Summit is also expected to reiterate support for further opening of markets and completion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, which CIDSE and Caritas believe would hurt small-scale farmers rather than help them unless significant changes are made to current proposals.
CIDSE and Caritas believe that if the international community is serious about harnessing the potential of small-scale farmers, policies should particularly target women producers, who are the backbone of the rural economy and crucial actors in ensuring household food security. Both networks call on developing country governments to allocate, within 5 years, a minimum of 10% of their annual budgets to implement these urgent policies. The international donor community should make at least an equivalent commitment to agriculture and rural development in their Official Development Assistance (ODA), whose share within overall ODA spending has fallen from 17% in 1980 to around 5% today.
Parallel to the Summit a Civil Society Forum is taking place in Rome from 14-17 November. An APRODEV and CIDSE Briefing Paper and recommendations to the EU for the World Food Summit is available: >>> here