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AFA Delegates Participate in the 8th Global Meeting of the Farmers’ Forum

Nine representatives from Asian Farmers Association members and the AFA Secretariat participated in the (FAFO) which took place at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Headquarters in Rome, Italy on 12-13 February 2024. This year’s meeting convened over 80 farmers’ leaders collectively representing millions of small-scale farmers and rural producers from all over the world who work with IFAD and partner institutions. Additionally, 36 partner observers were present. The meeting focused on assessing achievements, identifying strengths and areas for enhancement, and exploring strategies to enhance co-ownership and participation.

On 12 February, Mr. Alvaro Lario, the President of IFAD, and Ms. Jyotsna Puri, the Strategy and Knowledge Department Associate Vice-President, opened the eighth global meeting of the FAFO, together with the members of the FAFO Global Steering Committee. IFAD presented its analysis of evolving partnerships with Farmers Organizations (FOs), from the Partnership in Progress Report 2020–2023 and the Approach Paper on IFAD–FO engagement. Two parallel working group sessions on strategic aspects of the partnership was held, and the outcomes emerged from the discussions was reported back in plenary.

During the event, the key regional programs supporting FOs (FO4A, FO4LA, FO4ACP, GAFSP2) were presented, showcasing innovations, key results and lessons learned.

In addition, two thematic parallel discussions addressed the issues of climate change resilience and biodiversity conservation, and smallholders’ access to finance. Lany Rebagay, AFA’s Policy Advocacy Officer and APFP-FO4A Program Manager, discussed how and why direct Grant Financing to FOs works by sharing experiences from AFA’s implementation of MTCP1, MTCP2 and APFP-FO4A.

Delegates
Delegates at FOFA 2024.

Three side events also took place in parallel – “Joining efforts in advancing peasant rights through UNDROP implementation”, “Strengthening capacities of farmers’ organizations to support sustainable food systems transformation and resilience” and “How can youth lead and be supported to sustainably produce the tomorrow’s food?”. These side events were co-organized by IFAD and FOs La Via Campesina, the Pan African Farmers’ Organization, and the Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmer Organization.

A Synthesis of Deliberations and Recommendations, prepared and agreed upon by the entire FAFO delegation, was presented during the FAFO closing session in front of Governors, Executive Board representatives, and IFAD’s Senior Management. Remarks by the Vice-President of IFAD, Ms. Gérardine Mukeshimana, concluded the eighth global meeting of the FAFO. A statement from the FAFO’s Synthesis of Deliberations was also delivered by an FO representative to the delegates of the forty-seventh session of IFAD’s Governing Council on Wednesday, 14 February at IFAD headquarters.

APFP-FO4A co-implementer AFA and LVC also showcased various products of their partner FOs in a joint exhibition of the FO programs. The FO4A booth also engaged FAFO participants by conducting games that included a mini-quiz on the topic of agriculture.

“After the forum, we immediately noticed that we are not alone in our problems, and the entire agricultural world is slowly uniting, and such large organizations as IFAD listen to small farmer organizations like us. Many good contacts were made with other farming organizations from other parts of the world,” says Toolos Bostonbaev, delegate from the National Union of the Water Users’ Association (NUWUA) of the Kyrgyz Republic. NUWUA is a member of AFA.

Considerations for GAFSP

FAFO shed a light on the pivotal role GAFSP plays in providing crucial funding to Producer Organizations, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards sustainable agriculture and food security.

Civil Society Organizations and representatives from IFAD echoed a resounding call for sustained donor support for GAFSP. They recognized its unique focus on the PO-led financing track, which has garnered widespread acknowledgment for its effectiveness in empowering farmers. This call underscores the indispensable role GAFSP plays in bolstering agricultural initiatives worldwide.

One striking observation from the event was the growing interest from POs in GAFSP, including those who may have been hesitant in the past. This newfound enthusiasm underscores the attractiveness of GAFSP's approach and its ability to resonate with diverse agricultural stakeholders. It signals a promising shift towards embracing innovative financing models for agricultural development.

Crucially, GAFSP's trajectory aligns seamlessly with the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. By emphasizing synergies between its initiatives and the SDGs, GAFSP reinforces its commitment to driving tangible progress towards ending hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture.

Another cornerstone of GAFSP's mission is its focus on promoting sustainable agricultural practices, notably agroecology, as a potent tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation. This commitment has garnered praise from farmer organizations, who recognize the program's pivotal role in advancing their development aspirations.

One key feature that distinguishes GAFSP is its emphasis on the PO-led track, which provides direct funding to farmer organizations. This unique approach not only fosters financial inclusivity but also amplifies the voices of farmers in crucial discussions surrounding access to finance, policy advocacy, and agricultural resilience.

In his closing remarks, Donal Brown underscored the collaborative efforts between GAFSP and esteemed organizations like the Asian Farmers Organization (AFA). This partnership exemplifies GAFSP's commitment to ensuring that producer organizations have direct access to the grant financing they need to thrive.

"I’m delighted to see my esteemed colleague, Ester Penunia, Secretary if the Asian Farmers Organization (AFA), here today. With AFA we collaborate closely with farmer organizations within the GAFSP framework to ensure that producer organizations have direct access to the available grant financing."

— Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department, IFAD

the Farmers' Forum

ճ is a bottom-up dialogue on rural development and poverty reduction between , IFAD and governments. The Forum guides IFAD operations and identifies opportunities for partnerships.

Established in 2005, global meetings are held every four years, with regional meetings organized in between which inform the global meeting. The first cycle of regional meetings took place between 2017 and 2019 in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America, while  took place between September 2022 and February 2023 and included the Near East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia region.

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