Strong farmers’ organizations key to achieving food security

Invest in rural youth today who are farmers of tomorrow

Rome, 18 February 2010 - Millions of smallholders and rural producers from all over the world were represented by 70 farmers' leaders who gathered this week for the Third Global Meeting of the Farmers' Forum. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) hosted the Forum at its headquarters in Rome.
With just five years left before the first Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger, there is renewed consensus on the need to support smallholder farmers in their efforts to overcome poverty, cope with climate change and contribute to mitigating its effects.

"Stronger organizations of smallholder farmers, fishers and pastoralists are essential if we are to seize the opportunities that arise from today's challenges," stressed IFAD's President, Kanayo F. Nwanze, who opened the biennial meeting of the farmers' organizations.

Rural producers have stronger bargaining power when they unite and work together to achieve a common goal to influence policies and development programmes.  At the Forum, in discussions on rural development policies, the farmers emphasized their right to be part of the entire process, from programme design to evaluation.

"There will be no effective response to the challenges of food security for all, eradication of extreme poverty and mitigation of climate change without more and better investment in their farms and more supportive policies for rural development," said Jean-Philippe Audinet, of IFAD.

The farmers' leaders and IFAD representatives agreed on the urgent need to invest in young farmers. Speakers at the Forum highlighted that investment in agriculture is essential to make farming profitable for the young women and men in the fields of developing countries who will feed the world tomorrow. 

"National governments, development partners and the private sector must join hands in building their capacities, in providing them with the technologies they need, the rural infrastructures, the financial institutions, the market information and linkages that are essential ingredients of the transformation from subsistence to small agro-business entrepreneurs," concluded Nwanze.

Notes to Editors

  • 85 per cent of all farms worldwide are less than 2 hectares in size (in the developing world, some are as small as 0.25 hectares) and 500 million smallholder farms produce 80 per cent of the food consumed in the developing world.
  • Rural women are increasingly the farmers of the developing world. They perform the majority of agricultural work and produce over 60 per cent of food crops, yet often women have limited or no land rights in many places around the world. 
  • Over 60 per cent of the world's rural population is made up of young people, and over half of them are young women and girls.

Press release No.: IFAD/16/2010

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested over US$11 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering some 350 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the UN's food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 165 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).