Sustainable smallholder agriculture: Feeding the world, protecting the planet

As the world belatedly turns its attention to the pressing issues of environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climate change, the concept of sustainability takes its rightful place at centre stage in discussions about agricultural and rural development.

The Thirty-fifth Session of IFAD's Governing Council provided a forum for Member States, partners and the public to discuss and debate what needs to be done to enable smallholder farmers to contribute to raising food availability by70 per cent by 2050, which is what will be required to feed a growing, more urbanized population.

Over the course of the two-day event, world leaders, prominent movers and shakers, policymakers, academics and, most importantly, farmer representatives reflected on and answer the following fundamental questions:

  • Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, took centre stage to share his perspectives, with questions to follow from international broadcaster, Isha Sesay. Mr Gates discussed the importance of agriculture and how sustainable productivity improvements can reduce poverty in developing countries. He will challenge both global players and national governments to adopt a new approach to supporting smallholder farmers.   
  • As the international community takes stock of progress in the climate negotiations and prepares for Rio+20 in June 2012, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, the Chief Executive Officer of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, engaged in a conversation with Naga Munchetty, an international broadcaster, on "What promise will Rio herald for agriculture?"
  • Nik Gowing, international broadcaster, hosted a high-level panel to discuss and debate what it will take to ensure food security while protecting the environment. Panellists shared their views on different farming methods. They highlighted the importance of building institutions, investing in research and technology, and adopting and adapting new practices.
  • Naga Munchetty hosted a high-level panel composed of policymakers. The panel discussed how to create a sustainable future for smallholder farmers.

Social media and webcasting

The Thirty-fifth Session of IFAD's Governing Council was an interactive event thanks to a number of social media components. Social reporters kept the outside world informed through blogs, tweets, posting interviews and pictures on the following IFAD social media channels. 

To stimulate the conversation, live tweets were displayed on the Twitter wall in the Plenary Hall, in the meeting rooms and in the atrium. Delegates were encouraged to share their ideas, views and insights via social media channels using #ifadgc hashtag.

The virtual audience followed the proceedings and interacted with the prominent guests and panellists on the above social media channels and via webcasting.

Speeches and statements