Global Agriculture

Farmers Welcomed as “Game-Changers” of Agrifood Systems

19 June 2024, Rome: Director-General QU Dongyu today welcomed farmers from around the globe to FAO headquarters for the 2024 Annual Meeting of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO).

“You are the game changers of agrifood systems,” he said, noting that precisely those systems need to be urgently transformed to address hunger and other global challenges.

Most of the worlds 608 million farms are run by an individual or a family and rely primarily on family labor, operating at a small scale yet producing the vast majority of the world’s food in value terms. Those farmers also fulfil key environmental, social and cultural roles and have a “unique understanding and ability to protect local ecologies, knowledge and heritage,” Qu added.

Qu hailed the WFO as a “great example of effective collaboration” with more than 80 national farmers’ organizations from all over the world under its umbrella. Such organizations can serve a host of functions regarding scale, knowledge sharing and policy change, the Director-General said, emphasizing that effective partnerships are at the core of FAO’s work.

Other speakers at the meeting included Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, WFO President Arnold Puech d’Allisac and Alvaro Lario, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. Several emphasized the importance that farmers be assured a fair return for their work, recognizing that it extends beyond food production to encompass environmental services and cultural transmission.

Farmers, especially family farmers, women farmers and young farmers, “are the primary agents of change for the transformation needed,” Qu said. They are also protagonists of the private sector in terms of the investments needed in agrifood systems today, he said, noting that despite their central role family farmers are often the most vulnerable and face the highest levels of poverty and food insecurity.

The week-long WFO General Assembly features a number of special events including a stocktaking on the United Nations Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028, a session dedicated to regenerative agriculture and another to innovation and digitalization in agriculture, a global youth consultation on climate-smart agriculture and the launch of a new WFO youth platform.

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