On February 17 and 18, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) held its fifth Farmers' Forum in Rome, a biennial consultation between IFAD and organizations representing smallholder farmers and producers around the world. This year's forum fit within the context of the International Year of Family Farming, and it preceded IFAD's annual convening of the Governing Council.
In his opening remarks, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said:
"2014 is, in many senses, your year. It is the International Year of Family Farming—a year in which the international development community is asked to focus on family and smallholder farms which includes forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production. A year dedicated to appreciating how women and men, young and old, work together to keep family farms alive and make rural areas vibrant spaces."
"In this special year, IFAD will advocate at the national and international levels for support to smallholder farmers and their organisations. In particular, we will make a special effort to press for policy changes that result in improvements in the rural space that benefit smallholders. We will do this not just because this year is an international year, but because this is the core of what we do, this year and every year."
Although I was not in attendance in Rome, I participated in the discussion with others via Twitter. You can read more in the story below. I'm encouraged by the conversations that took place, and I look forward to seeing what long-term commitments come out of IFAD's Governing Council meeting. Increased attention to and investment in smallholder farmers and sustainable agriculture is nonnegotiable if we are to end global hunger, feed the world's growing population and preserve the planet's finite resources.