Suriname: FAO coordinates dialogue on family farming at Caribbean Week

| October 9, 2014

Caribbean news. Paramaibo, Suriname, 7 October 2014 : Under the theme “Transforming Caribbean Agriculture through Family Farming”, the Caribbean Week of Agriculture got off to a strong start on Monday, 6th October with a seminar coordinated and organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The seminar was pivotal in setting the context on what is expected to be a week of dialogue which will help to define the transformational role that Family Farming can begin to play in agricultural and rural development in the Caribbean region, leading to the setting of policy priorities.

A couple works together on their seedling nursery

A couple works together on their seedling nursery

Seminar Chair, Mrs. Desire Field-Ridley, Officer in Charge, Directorate of Trade and Economic Integration in CARICOM, charged the delegates to utilize their diverse experience in preparing recommendations to the Ministers of The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), to define a roadmap for the revitalization of the rural economy through the transformation of Family Farming.  In his opening remarks, His Excellency Soeresh Algoe, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries in Suriname, took the opportunity to highlight the importance of family farming to his country, adding the need to understand Family Farming in the context of the Human Right to Food.

In the first technical presentation, Dr. Deep Ford, Caribbean Sub-regional Coordinator for FAO noted the tremendous contribution of Family Farmers to national, regional and global food security and economies of countries despite challenges which increasingly marginalized their efforts.  He challenged delegates firstly to consider how the definition of a Family Farmer relates to the small farmer socio-economic models in the Caribbean.  In doing so, this would provide an opportunity to develop targeted public policies for Family Farming in the region, an area often neglected by policy makers.

FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Dr. J.R. Deep Ford

FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Dr. J.R. Deep Ford

Dr Ford emphasized that the policy challenge for Family Farming is to provide differentiated support which will help families involved to improve their livelihoods and contribute to economic growth and stability.  Key issues to be addressed by policy include succession planning and changing family structures; family ownership; support for accessing multiple, differentiated markets; addressing social and economic issues in an integrated way; and differentiated risk management tools which address issues specific to size and capacity in the context of economic and natural resource shocks. The workshop endorsed these policy interventions.

The seminar also highlighted examples of how Family Farming policies and programmes have been transformational in Central and South American regions.  Through work in Central America with coffee family farmers it has been shown that targeted programmes can strengthen innovation systems; public purchasing; extension methodology application; market inclusiveness and access; sustainable uptake of good practices – all leading to improved productivity and efficiency by Family Farmers as well as sustainable natural resource use, and conservation of biodiversity.  FAO also highlighted the value of institutional mechanisms which support inclusive and participatory dialogue in policy setting and implementation in MERCOSUR countries – through REAF (the Spanish acronym for the Specialized Meeting of Family Agriculture in MERCOSUR).

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