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New Frontiers in Sustainable Farming – Episode 15

28 December 2020

In this episode, we say goodbye to a year that’s been full of uncertainty and change, but also adaptation, innovation and improvement. IFAD’s Associate Vice-President Donal Brown gives us the latest on IFAD’s response to the pandemic and its expected impact in 2021. We also talk about disability inclusion and gender-based violence, and we hear from the Slow Food Foundation about the Terra Madre 2020 event.

Agroecology experts Miguel Altieri and Salvatore Ceccarelli join us to talk about the importance of biodiversity for our food systems. We also have a special segment from IFAD’s Goodwill Ambassadors Sabrina and Idris Elba, originally featured on the BBC podcast "What Planet Are We On?". Finally, our reporter Freddie Harvey Williams shows us how small-scale farmers are currently last on the list when it comes to getting climate finance.

Table of Contents


Heading into 2021 with Donal Brown

Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President for IFAD

The COVID-19 situation is still evolving globally. In many of the countries and regions where IFAD-supported projects are concentrated, particularly Latin America, we’re seeing a second wave coming through much more quickly and on a far bigger scale than we expected. And the situation continues to raise significant issues: what was once “just” a health crisis is now evolving into a long-term livelihood and food security crisis.

Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President for IFAD, spoke with us about these effects and what we can expect as we head into 2021.

Steven Jonckheere on disability inclusion 

Steven Jonckheere, IFAD’S Senior Technical Specialist for Gender and Social Inclusion

Currently, 1 billion people – 15 per cent of the world’s population – is living with a disability. The vast majority of them live in developing countries, and they are more likely to live in poverty. Yet despite being the world’s largest minority, persons with disabilities are often forgotten – especially in terms of their participation in rural development programmes.

Steven Jonckheere, our specialist in social inclusion, spoke with us about the need to change the mindset toward persons with disabilities.

Ndaya Beltchika addresses gender-based violence 

Ndaya Beltchika, IFAD’s Lead Technical Specialist for Gender and Social Inclusion

Physical, sexual, economic and psychological violence against women and girls is the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide.

IFAD works year-round to address these issues, but every autumn, we join with our fellow UN agencies across the globe to observe the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. This international campaign, active since 1991, is designed to raise awareness about these types of violence and advocate for support for those who have been affected.

 Ndaya Beltchika, our specialist in gender equality, took this occasion to speak with us about the impact of masculinity and traditional gender roles on societies around the world – and the solutions we need to put into action to benefit everyone.

The Slow Food network and Terra Madre 2020

Slow Food is a global network connecting communities from every corner of the world who are actively working to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. Its work focuses on defending and promoting agricultural biodiversity, advocating for fundamental changes to our food systems, and educating end consumers about the environmental and health benefits of producing food locally and sustainably.

Earlier this year, Slow Food kicked off Terra Madre 2020, a six-month international event dedicated to food, the environment, agriculture and food politics. We spoke with three Slow Food representatives about the event and their work with the organization.

Luis Francisco Prieto

Since 2017, IFAD and Slow Food have been working together to help improve indigenous peoples’ lives through an initiative that protects and promotes food heritage and the traditional practices that guarantee sustainability and resilience. The project works with 500 indigenous food producers and over 10,000 indigenous youth.

Luis Francisco Prieto, the Indigenous Peoples and Afrodescendant Focal Point for Slow Food, spoke with us about the project’s recent developments and results.

Dali Nolasco

Dali Nolasco is Advisory Board Member for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Indigenous Terra Madre (ITM) Network. ITM is a Slow Food initiative dedicated to bringing indigenous peoples’ voices to the forefront of the debate on food and culture.

Dali comes from the Nahua peoples of Tlaola, a municipality of Puebla, Mexico. In her work with Slow Food, she advocates for the defense and promotion of native seeds, food, territories, and indigenous biodiversity. She also educates people – particularly women, young adults, and children – on issues surrounding rights, gender equality, and inter-culturalism.

We spoke with Dali about her trainings, the projects she’s working on with Slow Food, and her contribution to Terra Madre 2020.

Margaret Tunda

Margaret Tunda is another ITM Advisory Board Member representing East Africa. 

Margaret is a member of the Maasai peoples of Kenya. She believes indigenous communities should receive the support they need to ensure their rights to land and natural resources are protected and their voices are heard. In her work with Slow Food, she plays a key rols in advocating for her community’s positive cultural practices.

She spoke with us about Slow Food’s contribution towards ensuring food security and her collaboration with the network regarding the rights of indigenous peoples.

Miguel Altieri and Salvatore Ceccarelli on agroecology

In Episode 13 of Farms. Food. Future., Italian farmer Marco Minciaroni spoke highly of agroecology experts Miguel Altieri and Salvatore Ceccarelli. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk with them directly.

Miguel Altieri

Miguel Altieri is a professor of agroecology and urban agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley. He’s conducted research in both California and Latin America, working closely with farmers to design productive, biodiverse and resilient systems that support sustainable farming.

Miguel is currently in rural Colombia setting up his own farm. He spoke with us about how implementing the principles of agroecology works well for small-scale farmers.

Salvatore Ceccarelli

Salvatore Ceccarelli, professor of agricultural genetics at the University of Perugia, has published nearly 280 scientific papers and conducted training courses for researchers in various countries around the world. He also collaborates with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas.

Salvatore told us about the benefits of moving towards more organic and biodynamic agriculture. Among other benefits, this kind of food system can contribute to boosting our immune systems – especially important in the fight against diseases like COVID-19.

Sabrina and Idris Elba’s BBC guest spot

Sabrina and Idris Elba, UN Goodwill Ambassadors for IFAD

Sabrina and Idris Elba, UN Goodwill Ambassadors for IFAD, were recently featured on the BBC podcast “What Planet Are We On?” They spoke about the work they do with IFAD and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We're pleased to feature an excerpt from their segment. Click here to listen to the full interview.

Freddie Harvey Williams on IFAD’s Climate Policy Initiative

IFAD and the Climate Policy Initiative recently released a new report titled Examining the Climate Finance Gap for Small-scale Agriculture. The report describes the barriers that currently stand in the way of channeling climate finance to small-scale producers and provides recommendations to help overcome these barriers.

The release of the report also coincided with the Finance in Common Summit, where representatives of the world’s 450 Public Development Banks met for the first time to discuss how to reorient financial flows to support global climate and development targets.

Our reporter Freddie Harvey Williams has the latest on the event.

Summing Up

Thanks to our producer Francesco Manetti, our reporter Freddie Harvey Williams and everyone else who’s worked on this programme, but most of all thanks to you for listening to this episode of Farms. Food. Future., brought to you by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Remember, we want to hear from you – what you think about our stories and issues discussed, and who you want us to be talking to – so please get in touch with us at podcasts@ifad.org.

Send us your voice or text messages to that address and we’ll be happy to play you out in the next show. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast via your favourite platform – and please rate us!

We’ll be back next year with more news fresh from the farm. Tune in to Farms. Food. Future. in January 2021 to get off to a great start in the new year. And once again we’ll be trying to be Good for You, Good for the Planet and Good for the Farmers.

Until then from me, Rosa Gonzalez Goring, and the team here at IFAD – thanks for listening!