Farming News - Dacian Ciolos calls for support for small farmers

Dacian Ciolos calls for support for small farmers

22 Jan 2013

European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has said small farms hold the key to sustainable food production. The commissioner expressed his intent to push for measures supporting smallholders and family farmers in a speech on Tuesday.


Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said small farmers hold the key to global food security

Speaking at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, Commissioner Ciolos said smallholders are the key to global food security and that they must be enabled to thrive "in terms of access to land and to credit, but also in terms of stable economic and policy framework to encourage the necessary investments."


His calls came after German minister for agriculture Ilse Aigner and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation head Jose Graziano da Silva called for more responsible investment in agriculture. The European and FAO leaders were speaking during Berlin's Green Week.


Investment in agriculture has increased since the 2008 food crisis, prior to which it was in decline. However, the UK Food Group, a coalition of farming, anti-poverty and academic organisations, has said it is important that small scale producers are able to engage in the debate and help direct funding to avoid delivering 'false solutions' such as didactic advice, corporate control and technology dumping in developing nations.


The UK Food Group is calling for investment to support family farming and develop "agroecological, biodiverse and resilient models of production". Echoing these calls last week, FAO's Graziano da Silva said, "Agricultural investment has long shown itself to be one of the most effective and sustainable means for reducing hunger and poverty. We need to invest more. And, equally as important, we need to invest better." He also spoke of the need to "create conditions where farmers can invest more and to increase their own investment in ways that generate economic and social benefits, as well as environmentally sustainable results."


There are currently over a billion farmers worldwide and FAO said these people "should be at the centre of new investment strategies, because they are by far the largest investors in agriculture" FAO figures show farmers in 76 low- and middle-income countries invest almost 170 billion dollars a year in their farms. This is three times as much as all other sources of investment combined - including public investment, foreign private sector investment and official development assistance.


In Berlin, Commissioner Ciolos called for €700 billion to be invested in food security in Africa alone by 2050, from all international sources. The 80 farm ministers attending the summit in Germany agreed to prioritise 'responsible financial investment' into "rural development, land and water management, and rural infrastructure."


The delegates added that private investment in the agricultural sector must be "based on a legal framework safeguarding the rights and interests of states and their people". Such funding and funders must also "Commit to strengthen the skills and abilities of smallholder farmers in particular… promote equitable access to natural resources and support farmers in organizing themselves."


They concluded that investment must "be structurally sound, socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable, facilitate consultations between investors and stakeholders and expedite the progressive realization of the right to adequate food."