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Brussels Briefings n.60; Marissa Ryan: Farmer-led food systems at the core of agricultural transformation

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The Brussels Development Briefing n.60 on “The future of food and agricultural transformation” organised by CTA, the European Commission/EuropeAid, the ACP Secretariat and CONCORD was held on Wednesday 26 February 2020 (9h00-13h00) at the ACP Secretariat, Avenue Georges Henri 451, 1200 Brussels.
The briefing presented trends and discussed the sustainable and healthy food systems, the future of work in agriculture and the need for new skills in very complex food chains, the effects of disruptive innovations, fair and inclusive value chains and trade.
The audience was made up of ACP-EU policy-makers and representatives of the EU Member States, civil society groups, research networks and development practitioners, the private sector and international organisations based in Brussels as well as representatives from ACP regional organisations.

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Brussels Briefings n.60; Marissa Ryan: Farmer-led food systems at the core of agricultural transformation

  2. 2. CONTEXT & ISSUES • Smallholder producers do not receive adequate recognition or political & financial support (local govt support/ODA) • Public policy often biased towards industrial large scale agriculture • Smallholders often do not receive fair prices for goods they produce; incomes are insufficient for a decent standard of living (‘living income’) • Women smallholder producers face particularly high exposure to risks and lack of opportunities Smallholder producers – the most important investors operating in agriculture: • Produce an estimated 70 % of the world’s food supply • Key role in rural poverty reduction and protection of biodiversity • Family farming a key sector with huge potential for employment creation for rural youth
  3. 3. LOOKING BACK…. What changed since the food price crisis: • Agricultural development became the focus of international attention • Spike in ODA, multilateral initiatives for reinvestments in agriculture and inter-governmental action to put food security at the top of the political agenda • Promotion of private sector investments and PPPs (often without adequate reflection on what kinds of investment support SSP) What has not changed since then: • Public investment levels in agriculture remain woefully inadequate; no long-term aid increases • Corporate concentration continues, incl. megamergers • We produce enough food for everyone but still 1 in 9 people go hungry • The paradigm has not changed as a result of the food price crisis  Existing global food system creates inequalities caused by (and resulting in) a lack of voice & power for those most impacted Key drivers of food price crisis 2007-2008 Concentration of distribution and input supply (marginalises small actors) Declining public investments (govts) and development aid (donors) to agriculture Liberalisation of agri trade Speculation and financialisation of food and land
  4. 4. LOOKING FORWARD…. Decisions that we take today will shape where we will be in 10 years time • A paradigm shift in agricultural development is needed towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems, embedded in broader contexts of food systems and rural development • New indicators needed to measure ‘progress’ in agriculture; not only yields or productivity (too narrow) but: total outputs, nutrient content of outputs, health risks, resilience to shocks (climate, prices…), provision of ecosystem services, resource efficiency, job creation, social equity and empowerment of producers/people in governance of food systems • Diversified systems are by definition geared towards producing diverse outputs, while delivering a range of environmental and social benefits • Such a holistic approach would recognise that a farmer is not only a producer of agricultural goods but also managing an agro-ecological system that provides a number of public goods and services (incl. a holistic response to climate crisis) • Obstacles for the transformation are fundamentally political CONTEXT: From climate change to climate crisis
  5. 5. THREE RURAL WORLDSRural World • Producers with access to finance, information, infra • Can more easily ‘step up’ to formal/co-ordinated markets • Primarily men • “The richest of the poor” • 2-10% of producers Rural World Smallholders who are ‘hanging in’ • Less likely to be formally organized in the market; likely to trade in the informal sector • May derive part of their incomes from waged work • State institutions and corporate agri-food businesses are usually inaccessible to them • Majority of smallholder producers Rural World • Most marginalized rural citizens; tenant farmers, wage labourers • More likely to depend on off-farm labour opportunities • Often approaching landlessness • Female-headed households • Policies and business initiatives that support smallholder production may not cater their needs • At least 25% of smallholders
  6. 6. • Rural World : The ones who get to most benefit from commercial investments and strengthening formal value chain linkages • Rural World : Informal markets are particularly important for them; policies to strengthen rather than undermine these markets are needed (investments in physical infra (roads, local market spaces, …), investment in local processing, warehousing & storage, market information, transparent commodity exchanges • Rural World : Benefit from measures to promote fair labour relations and labour-generating sectors THREE RURAL WORLDS – WHY IS THE DISTINCTION IMPORTANT? Agriculture, trade, investment and development policies must respond to the diversity of rural societies  In particular meet needs and aspirations of Rural Worlds ‘green’ & ‘yellow’ who otherwise risk being neglected
  7. 7. THREE RURAL WORLDS – WHY IS THE DISTINCTION IMPORTANT? • There is a range of possible interventions and financing tools to choose from: their impact and outcomes will vary based on the target group • Private sector cooperation risks to reach only a small share of producers; no sufficient recognition that private sector cooperation and blended finance don’t appear suitable for difficult country contexts nor for reaching marginalized groups • Importance of public, government-led investment in supporting majority of small-scale farmers (Rural Worlds 2&3) to unleash their potential  What remains in common: Small-scale producers should be at the centre of inclusive agricultural transformation; increase their agency (transition with them, not without them, not at their detriment)
  8. 8.  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  The Paris Agreement  Guidelines adopted by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS): • Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Adequate Food (VGRtF) • Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) • Policy recommendations on ‘Investing in Smallholder Agriculture’ • Policy recommendations on ‘Connecting Smallholders to Markets’  The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other peoples working in rural areas  UN Decade on Family Farming Global Action Plan  African Union Agenda 2063  …. The globally agreed policy framework is already there…..
  9. 9. From policy to practice: Guiding principles for agricultural transformation and food systems • A human rights framework for responsible investments in agriculture  To protect and support the rights and dignity of small-scale producers  Inclusive, transparent discussion and democratically decided public policies in the countries concerned • Territorial systems approach  Recognize diversity of local communities and the consequent need for context‐specific locally driven solutions  Emphasize the importance of the territorially embedded markets through which the bulk of the food consumed transits and in which most small-scale producers engage (women in particular)  The notion of ‘value chains’ needs to be defined in the context of multifunctional small-scale family farming system, acknowledging that the ‘value added’ is not only economic but also social  Adopt measures that ensure retention of value in rural areas for reinvestment and employment creation • Agroecology and territorial food systems  Promotion of agroecological approaches as a key element of transitioning towards more just and sustainable food systems and increasing resilience in the face of climate change  Report by IPCC presents agroecology as a solution that can help our planet adapt to climate change and concurrently deliver multiple benefits.
  10. 10. From policy to practice (cont.): Guiding principles for agricultural transformation • Gender equality and women’s rights  More needs to be done to ensure rural women’s rights to access, control and own land and other natural resources, and to improve their access to rural infrastructure and markets  Analyse and implement policies and initiatives through a gender lens  Targeted measures to empower women producers • Youth in agriculture  The agri-food sector, from production to processing, transportation, marketing and consumption, offers significant possibilities to create jobs and livelihoods for the youth  Strategies to address the lack of employment for young people often suffer from the limitation of considering young people as individual economic decision-makers, ignoring how they are deeply embedded in networks of family and social relations • Accountability and participation  Ensure the voices of small-scale food producers and local agri-food MSMEs are taken into account  Guard against unequal power dynamics and conflicts of interest  Reinforces existing small-scale producer organization and CSO structures and platforms
  11. 11. Provides an opportunity to re-raise issues around food governance to global arenas, affirming its centrality to rural development and achievement of SDGs. However, several concerns remain….. • Will the Summit be inclusive and democratic; what place for producer organisations and civil society? • What role can we expect for private sector actors (often very powerful) to take? • Is the Summit aiming to address root causes or will we see (yet another) technology and innovation focused approach?  We look forward to a Summit that: • Aims for a people centred and human rights based approach that allows the voice of most affected be heard • Values context-specific solutions which allow diversified agroecological transformation to take place • Recognizes the role and build on the work of the CFS (incl. VG on food systems and nutrition to be adopted in Oct 2020) Towards the UN Food Systems Summit (2021)
  12. 12.  Foreign policy objectives risk to overpower development objectives (migration, trade, finding new markets to EU agri production..)  Substantial emphasis on private sector involvement and blended finance; new opportunities but also significant risks. Who benefits most?  No dedicated space for agriculture/food systems funding in the EU’s new development finance instrument NDICI (MFF 2021-2027) The EU’s commitment to agriculture & food security has been relatively strong – but the overall landscape of EU support to agricultural development is changing fast
  13. 13. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE ACP-EU PARTNERSHIP IN AGRICULTURE • Adopt a cautious approach when cooperating with the private sector; gather more evidence to assess what development impacts can be achieved through blended finance, who benefits most, and whether it effectively can be a suitable tool to support small-scale producers • Private-sector cooperation and blended finance should not undermine the use of public funding targeted at reducing inequalities and creating an enabling environment for small-scale producers to thrive • Ensure stronger mechanisms for Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development of the EU agricultural, food and trade policies, based on human rights and the Agenda 2030 • The programming phase of the EU’s development cooperation 2021-2027 (MFF/NDICI) should guarantee that FNS and agriculture remain key intervention areas for EU development cooperation, including adopting a holistic approach on food systems
  14. 14. Work towards environmental sustainability and social innovation connecting food production and consumption, with strong support for locally adapted solutions based upon participation of local people and their knowledge CONCLUSIO N
  15. 15. CONTACT Marissa Ryan Deputy Director of Advocacy & Campaigns| Head of Oxfam EU marissa.ryan@oxfam.org THANK YOU