Urgent call for increased international support to farmers' organisations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis
AgriCord is very busy gathering and distributing information from the field, on the situation of agricultural value chains worldwide. We give farmers’ organisations and agri-agencies concrete tools to judge well the utility, urgency and critical level of different actions. We do this in exchange with farmers’organisations worldwide, they experience this as a global crisis in which they are all involved and can support each other – communication is essential.
We look at this with focus on adaptive capacity of farmers’ organisations so they can contribute now and also contribute to recovery after the crisis.
We focus on robust local food systems. There is an exodus ongoing in Africa from the cities to rural areas. Several food imports to cities have dropped because of closure of borders for export from several rice exporting countries in Asia. Food conflicts and tensions are probable.
Food prices are increasing. This could give a boost to local agricultural businesses and their cooperatives (production, processing), if only the enabling conditions were there. There are notably significant problems with the input chains while half of Africa is in its planting season. There are blocked markets. There are disturbed labour markets. A lot could be solved by:
- simple, low cost innovations to get the logistics of transport, collection and distribution of produce and inputs going. We talk about digital solutions and innovative inputs. Farmers organisations play a crucial role in communication and organisation of local food systems at the very local level.
- facilitating guarantee schemes to MFI’s and Local agricultural banks to continue to give input and trade credits to local cooperatives, farmers’ organisations and local SME’s.
We include the young rural people in our strategies. We find that, certainly in West and East Africa, they are extremely touched by the crisis because they can’t rely on their usual temporary, shifting labour in agriculture. As they don’t have access to land and investments, they rely on short term labour in their own or neighbouring countries. We have success stories of how FO’s include them in short term businesses that don’t ask much land (vegetables, poultry, small husbandry).
We support more than ever the national federative farmers’ organsiations, to be included in the policy dialogues with their governments and financial partners (delegations) at the national level.
The comprehensive approach EU has chosen to international partnerships. AgriCord, being mandated by farmers’ organisations in OECD countries (9 from EU and 1 from Canada) and by 3 farmers’ organisations from Asia, Brazil and Senegal embodies this approach.
The EU-AU Task Force Rural Africa stressed the importance of this comprehensive approach, of local territorial development around value chains and of farmers’ organisations and cooperatives in this. Regional farmers’ organisations from Africa continue to take up this matter with the African Union.
We as AgriCord, and our mandating and partner farmers’ organisations and cooperatives worldwide,
- Insist that the international support continues to focus on structural support to farmers’ organisations and cooperatives. They are present in rural areas and the only legitimate AND functional organisations that can communicate to farmers and organise local food value chains. They can do that through crisis times and especially, they will continue to do that after the crisis. They are our promise for the future and to keep the chains going and hence, incomes and nutrition. You can trust them and support them throughout the crisis and after.
- We want to plead that not all emergency support goes to health care only, goes through large aid organisations only or goes through government channels only.
- We insist to take into account farmers’ and cooperative organisations in policy dialogues at the country and regional level in low and middle income countries and in the implementation of the socio-economic support programmes.
Farrmers' organisations at the national level are ready to communicate with international delegations and with their governments. Please involve them, use the European institutional dialogue model as an example. We can be exemplary. They contextualise the model and especially, they can execute better than anybody, now and in future.