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Family Farmers Speak Out for More Inclusive Value Chains

  • During the commemoration of World Food Day, 80 participants in knowledge exchange are pronouncing for boosting consumption and adding value to products of small-scale agriculture.

October 30, 2019. Thirty organizations of forest and agricultural producers from Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Philippines, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua and Togo, who collectively represent around 725,000 producers, met in Cuetzalan, Puebla, Mexico, from Oct. 8 to the16 at the exchange La Canasta de Productos: Towards Inclusive Value Chains of Agroforestry and Ancestral Systems.

This global exchange of agricultural and forestry producers was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER, its Spanish acronym), the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB, its Spanish acronym), and the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC), Cocoa of Excellence, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), Mexican Network of Forest Peasant Organizations (Red MOCAF, its Spanish acronym) Mexican Network of Family, Indigenous, Peasant and Afro-descendant Agriculture) (REMAFICA) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The objective of this exchange between producers and representatives of government and research institutions and universities was to share  knowledge and experiences on diversified systems of cocoa, coffee, vanilla, honey and other important products of the basket of products, the addition of value and its insertion into value chains, in such a way that family agriculture is potentialized as a fundamental part of the multifunctional landscape approach, generating benefits for local populations and biodiversity. 

On behalf of CATIE, Evelyn Cháves, researcher at the Agribusiness Development Unit, was in charge of training on the cocoa and honey value chain. 

A summary of the findings of the exchange is presented below: 

  • That the importance of the connectivity of the landscape and its diverse components (social, cultural and ancestral, economic productive, landscape, biodiversity, agro-ecological) be promoted and fostered, as well as the recognition and strengthening of the value of knowledge, wisdom and ancestral practices (for example, millpa, chakra, kikuyu, chagaa), which make it possible to increase the recognition and inclusion of traditional agro-forestry systems as Important Systems of the World Agricultural Heritage (SIPAM) and UNESCO.  
  • It is recommended to design strategies to promote local and national consumption of the basket of products. Value the quality of the basket of products of small producers that allows it to add additional value through transformation to various local, regional, national and international markets.  
  • It is recognized that associativity is a fundamental basis for the development of organizations of forest and agricultural producers for the production, processing and marketing of goods and services derived from the basket of products from the forest and farms. It is important to strengthen links to reconnect family and communities with agricultural and forestry production within diversified systems.  
  • It is necessary to develop strategies that combine both scientific and ancestral knowledge to develop diversified sources of life improvement for small producers and grassroots organizations. Community-based tourism is an example that was seen as a complement to diversify the sources of income and the resilience of producers. Other examples include the implementation of good agricultural practices that facilitate the establishment of traceability schemes for the products of the basket, sowing and water harvesting systems, irrigation technology for the use and exploitation of water, training for agro-ecological production and avoidance of dependence on agro-toxic inputs. 
  • Recognize the value of food and nutritional sovereignty and security and the importance of the great diversity of products, as well as environmental services, urban-rural interdependence, product value chains, health, and biodiversity conservation, so that they are recognized as key elements for the sustainable production of forests and farms, and resilient communities. And that has repercussions on the design and implementation of public policies to promote production, seed exchange, value addition, commercialization and consumption in the territories. 
  • Recognize the fundamental role of women, among others:

In the conservation and sustainable use of the food and medicinal resources of the basket of products of forest and agricultural productive systems that promotes the empowerment of women, as well as increasing their income.

As guardians of seeds and the multiple varieties of resilient ancestral crops that are increasingly important to meet the challenge of climate change.

In the leadership in the organizations of forest and agricultural producers as the main space for the participation and empowerment of women in peasant family agriculture and that this allows economic independence in order to contribute to a life free of violence. 

  • That the development of public policies be the consequence of a true participation of the communities prioritizing their needs in order to solve the problems related to land tenure, fragmentation of plots, and family disintegration. 
  • Recognize the role and importance of indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants and local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as in the conservation of ancestral knowledge and knowledge, e.g., ancestral medicine, ancestral practices and models, traditional practices of exchange of culture, food and knowledge. 
  • It is essential to actively involve young people with an intergenerational approach in the undertaking of the basket of products with technologies appropriate to local forest and agricultural production systems, which in turn empowers them to face the challenges of the future. To awaken the interest of young people through information and communication technologies (ICTs), economically profitable and environmentally sustainable businesses with the best local, traditional and technical knowledge. A successful example that can be replicated are rural eco-schools and agro-businesses. 
  • It is recommended that business plans, policies and programs be developed to enable forest and agricultural producer organizations to access credit adapted to their production conditions from the basket from forests and farms, or, where appropriate, to encourage and facilitate local savings and credit systems. 
  • The role of the public sector and public policy in supporting small producers of forests and farms. It must guarantee effective participation from the family, community and society in general, promoting articulation in decision-making and facilitating access to differentiated goods and services for small producers of family agriculture. 
  • It is recommended to create, implement and oversee public policy in the different countries to strengthen and support producers of the basket from forests and integrated farms to undertake business models aimed at conscious markets throughout the value chain. Promote the training of producers on financial education and entrepreneurship. 
  • South-South exchange. The exchange of knowledge between countries and between local, national and international production and marketing networks is promoted and strengthened, and linked to public policies.


More information:

Evelyn Chaves Jaén
Agribusiness Development Unit
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FAO, México