4th IFOAM Youth Congress in March 2019

Last March 26-31, the 4th IFOAM Youth Congress was held in New Taipei, Taiwan with the theme “Access to market, a road to sustainability”. Participants of the congress learned and heard ways in promoting organic agriculture, protection of the environment and encourage the youth to take active role in organic agriculture development from local and international speakers from Philippines, India, Argentina and South Korea.

After the inputs, the participants were able to visit organic farms and village that gave inspiration and model in developing a community working together to attain sustainability and become climate change resilient. The processing centre for organic vegetables that provide organic lunch to schools also gave an idea on how local government and private sector partnership can help improve the health of the citizen and at the same time, provide livelihood to farmers.

European organic farmers meet in Romania

From 21. / 23 June, representatives of various organic-farmer organisations, from all over Europe met for agricultural policy and professional exchange in Romania. About five years ago, the political umbrella organisation of the European Organic movement, IFOAM EU founded with the farmer Sector Group (OFO Europe), a forum for the farming organisations of the European organic-sector. Over the years, the farmer sector group, has become a strong political voice of European organic-farmers. The meeting in Romania started with political events in Bucharest, because at the beginning of 2019 Romania will take over the European presidency. In the following days the farmers exchanged about different topics in a small round. The focus was on the upcoming reform of the common European agricultural policy and on the ongoing revision of the EU organic-regulation. During the meeting, a new board for the farmer Sector Group was also elected for the next two years.

Reform of the Common Agriculture policy : On 1st June, the EU Commission presented its proposal for the new common EU agricultural policy (CAP) after 2020. The result of the proposal was not surprising. But it caused many for discussions and insurance, because: According to the EU Commission proposal, there should be more responsibility given to the Member States. There are also instruments which could lead to more performance orientation – only looked at the proposal from the European Commission, a positive reform is possible, but also the complete opposite – a damaging ‘ continue-so ‘. This is a critical development, because of the reduced European budget for agriculture.

Asian Youth Congress March 2019

Last March 26-31, the 4th IFOAM Youth Congress was held in New Taipei, Taiwan with the theme “Access to market, a road to sustainability”. Participants of the congress learned and heard ways in promoting organic agriculture, protection of the environment and encourage the youth to take active role in organic agriculture development from local and international speakers from Philippines, India, Argentina and South Korea .

After the inputs, the participants were able to visit organic farms and village that gave inspiration and model in developing a community working together to attain sustainability and become climate change resilient. The processing centre for organic vegetables that provide organic lunch to schools also gave an idea on how local government and private sector partnership can help improve the health of the citizen and at the same time, provide livelihood to farmers.

Asia Pacific Farmers Forum

Last October 19-21, 2018, the Asian Farmers Forum was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia which coincided with the IFAD APR workshop. The Farmers’ Forum (FAFO) is a bottom-up process of consultation and dialogue between small farmers and rural producers’ organizations, IFAD and governments for rural development and poverty reduction. 

The Asian Farmers Forum was part of the regional level FAFOs in order to ‘be closer’ to the farmers and to foster greater involvement of IFAD regional divisions and country programs in order to facilitate interactions between FOs, IFAD and the IFAD funded projects and programs. INOFO was invited to sit as part of the Technical Working Group and attended the first workshop last February 2018 for the Asian FAFO workshop. Succeeding meetings were held online to finalize the program and participants wherein 2 participants Philippines, one from India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Indonesia came to join the conference. INOFO participants were active in this endeavour by serving as facilitator, engaging in discussions and sharing with and among farmer organizations from the region. 

With the objectives of understanding and appreciating the FaFO process at global, regional and country levels; learning from the work of IFAD and the dynamics of FO-IFAD engagement in Asia Pacific region and at the regional and country levels; and identifying areas of potential and stronger interaction and collaboration between FOs and IFAD; action plans were identified at country and regional level including mechanisms for coordination and complementation among FOs in the region to strengthen solidarity and support. A joint FO-IFAD statement stating support for regional and country level FAFO processes and action plans for stronge FO-IFAD partnerships and cooperation was also signed and presented to the participants.  Participants were also able to visit TOMs Farm, an organic farm where the owners of which are members of the Indonesia Organic Alliance, a new member of INOFO in Indonesia.

INOFO becomes member of ALGOA in South Korea

New chairperson Ms. Shamika Mone represented INOFO at the 4th ALGOA Summit from April 24th to 26th, 2018 in Goesan County, Chungbuk Province, South Korea. Asian Local Governments on Organic Agriculture (ALGOA) is a unique initiative started by IFOAM Asia in 2015 to bring all Asian Local Governments working on Organic Agriculture together on one platform along with many civil society and farmer organisations. First platform, where Government officers, civil society organisations and Organic farmers are no more separate parties; but are friends, buddies or comrades working hand in hand for better healthy future by supporting organic agriculture. This year the focus of the summit was on “Family Farming and the Role of Local Governments in Organic Agriculture”

To understand the importance of this year’s focus on Family Farming let’s look at a brief background behind it. On December 20th, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly, in its 72nd Session, officially adopted a resolution for the “Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028”. The resolution allows for better public policies on Family Farming and offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the alleviation of hunger and poverty as well as to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The resolution was proposed in early October by a group of 14 countries led by Costa Rica, co-sponsored by 104 states and unanimously approved at the General Assembly plenary session.

The adoption of the IYFF+10/Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028, is the result of a long process which started in 2008 with the campaign for the Declaration of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF-2014). The campaign was coordinated by the World Rural Forum as well as over 300 civil society organizations, governments, research centers, international organizations and cooperatives. It was also supported by international organizations such as FAO, IFAD, International Land Coalition (ILC), etc.

In lieu with such international developments, it is timely that ALGOA takes measures to recognize the role of family farming, small and marginal farmers in local organic agriculture development and bring forth relevant support policies from the local governments. ALGOA takes note that “the integrating concept of family farming includes forests, aquaculture, pastoralism and family fishing, as well as the fundamental role that women and young people play in family farming.” Local governments can play a big role in manifesting the objectives of the IYFF+10/Decade of Family Farming.

Purpose of this Summit was to understand and define the concept of family farming in organic agriculture in the Asian context and to develop policies/ guidelines by local governments to support family farming in organic agriculture. ALGOA now has grown to 91 members in 16 countries in Asia. The new members including INOFO have signed the “Membership of Commitment” in Goesan at this ALGOA Summit.

4th African Organic Congress and the Farmers’ track

The farmers’ track of the 4th African Organic Conference (AOC) was held on 6th November 2018’ in Saly, Senegal, as one of the side events of the conference.  The conference was organised by the African Organic Network (AFRONET) with the aim of promoting “Ecological and Organic Agriculture (EOA) Strategies for Viable Continental and National Development in the Context of the African Union Agenda 2063”.

The farmers’ track took under the auspices of the Inter-continental Network of Organic Farmers’ Organisations (INOFO) which played a key role in the pre-conference preparatory work of mobilising and short listing of presenters, sourcing sponsorships for selected farmers, and organising and directing proceedings of the track during the conference. This is the second, INOFO organised, farmers’ track to be held as a side event at the African Organic Conference.

The objective of the track as one of the pillars of the conference, is but not confined to ‘facilitating the sharing of knowledge, information, experiences and skills among all stakeholders in the organic sector’.  In fulfilling the above objective, presentations were sourced from East, Central, Southern and West Africa. North Africa did not participate in this forum.  However, with Morocco hosting the 2021 African Organic Conference, involvement from the North is expected to dominate the next track. In addition, a paper from Brazil was shared during the event. 

Presentations

Farmers shared their experiences through presentations made under the following topics;

a. Seeds.  b. Soil fertility management. c. Marketing of organic /ecological products.

 Summarised below are names of farmers with their papers;

 (i). Munshimbwe Chitalu- Creating Soil Conditions for Organic Production of Avocados in     Zambia.

(ii). Patrick Chiwawa- Keeping Soil Healthy for Organic Farming – Experiences of Tigwirizane   Women’s Club of Petauke District, Zambia.

(iii). Nana Kwaw Adams – Soil Health and Soil Fertility, Soil Life and Plant Health – ABOFAP – Ghana.

(iv). Abdoulaye Faye – Technique de Compostage – Senegal. (v). Soro Dognime- Experience Du Reseau Yebe.  Utilization des Techniques Pour La Recuperation des Terres Degradees Dansle Nord de la Cote d’Ivoire. (vi). Adeyinka Lateef – Conservation of Local Seeds.  KAZ Organic Foods & Vegetables – Oyo State, Nigeria. (vii). Peris Njeri Kamau – Seed Banking – Seed Savers Network – Kenya.

(viii). Olusola Sowemino – Marketing of Organic Products in Nigeria: Challenges and Lessons Learnt – Ope Farm, Nigeria.

(ix). Shonoila Saidat – Fork to Farm; Understanding Domestic Organic Food Marketing in Nigeria – Green Skills Centre, Nigeria. (x). Thales B. Mendonca – Agroforestry Systems – Brazil. (xi). Grace Chitsaka – Economically Empowering Marginalized Women through Beekeeping Projects in Bandula- Mozambique.

Participation The event was attended by more than forty (40) conference participants including the IFOAM Executive Director, Louise Luttikholt, INOFO President, Shamika Mone with seven (7) council members.  Thales Mendonca, Convenor from Brazil, made a special presentation on Agroforestry Systems.  A total of more than fifteen countries were represented in the audience.

Support to Farmers and Convenors 

Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA) supported eight (6) farmers to the conference with air travel.   In addition, they facilitated travel of nine convenors, (6 African, 1 Asian, 1 Latin America and 1 from Europe), while Naturland sponsored a farmer from Uganda.

Evaluation and Conclusion

Going by comments made by the IFOAM Executive Director and members of the audience, this event was well organised and better appreciated by participants. In this regard, the farmers’ track fitted  well in the mission of  INOFO which is ‘To Unite Organic Farmers and Support Their Voices at all Levels of Food Systems Development Towards Producing Healthy Nutritious Food and Preserve Mother Earth’.  The INOFO Team under President Shamika coordinated well, with Julie acting as anchor, Daniel as time keeper while both Julie and Janet recorded the proceedings. Famara as host though busy, ensured all logistics were in place at the right time.

Thales printed INOFO t-shirts for the team, as a surprise gift. These show cased INOFO as an organised team with improved visibility at the conference.

Shamika brought hand tools which were given to the presenters during the closing ceremony of the conference.  These were donated by Farmer Dada Wadekar from Maharashtra State in India as a gesture of solidarity to his fellow farmers.

In conclusion, we would like to thank AFRONET for the opportunity, AHA, Naturland and other sponsors for their support to both farmers’ and convenors’ travel and lodging.

The INOFO council is indebted to Dada Wadekar for the tools and all the farmers for their wonderful effort and sharing of such educative experiences.

We are grateful to the IFOAM Executive Director, Louise Luttikholt, for both her support to INOFO & participation in the farmers track.  Thanks to individual Convenors for their dedication and input before and during the conference. We acknowledge a special debt of gratitude to all members of the audience as per attached list.

INOFO in the West and Central Africa IFAD Farmers’ Forum

We are happy, finally, INOFO started to interact with the farmers’ forum (FAFO) in west and central Africa (WCA). We are looking for a greater involvement in order to advance effective partnerships and collaboration between IFAD and Organic Farmers Organisations (OFOs) in country programmes and investment projects.

In April 2018, the WCA region of the IFAD FAFO held its meeting in Nouakchott-Mauritania. Two members represented INOFO from two countries, namely Senegal and Togo. One of the main purposes of the forum is to discuss on how Farmers’ organisation can better support IFAD for a shared benefit partnership.

As the Farmers’ Forum was established since 2005, as new comer, INOFO’s representatives  was mainly over-there to observe, learn and contribute where possible. Despite being the only organisation pushing for Organic and Ecological agriculture, INOFO’s presence in Nouakchott was in a very favourable context. A week prior to the WCA IFAD FAFO, there was in Roma-Italia the second FAO International forum on Agro ecology where the main outcome was to scale up agro ecology in line with Sustainable Development Goals to save the planet.

The IFAD portfolio in WCA showcases some very innovative project set-ups, which are empowering Farmers Organisations (FOs) as responsible for the management of one or more project components. Farmers’ market access through product value chain being a big focus, it also appears a kind of solidarity between FOs from different country to strengthen each other, which also came out as a big demand to the Dr Gilbert F. Houngbo, IFAD president. The latter also strongly encourage Organic Farmers Organisations (OFOs) to advocate at their country level so that organic and ecological agriculture become a priority in their national program, then IFAD would easily support.

Therefor, INOFO is strongly requesting WCA region of the IFAD FAFO a better communication and a better inclusiveness, like the East and Southern Africa IFAD FAFO, so that the ecological and organic sector become fully part in providing food and agricultural solution in the region . A major learning point is that the Farmers’ Forum is an on-going, bottom-up process of consultation and dialogue between organizations of smallholder farmers and rural producers from all over the world.

Position Statement from INOFO 4th April 2018 at Stop Golden Rice Network International Conference, Philippines

We, Organic Farmers from the Inter-Continental Network of Organic Farmers Organisation (INOFO), a self-organized structure within IFOAM who gives organic farmers a voice, inside the organic movement and outside towards the public and politic, oppose all GM crops in total including the Golden Rice. GMOs have been proven to negatively affect our health; additionally it puts high risk on the farmer ownership of seeds. Therefore as an international organization who support our healthy planet, we oppose any seeds that go against the sustainable growth of the planet. 

It is un-needed, un-safe and un-predictable technology. 

We do not need to spend enormous amount of money to create a Rice variety that has Vitamin A. Our organic farms are full of diversity of crops including different kinds of pumpkins, Papaya and other numerous fruits and leafy vegetables which give us our Vitamin A. 

Contamination from GM crops has proven time and again in many parts of the world and organic farmers continue to face the threat at various levels. The Golden Rice would contaminate our indigenous rich Rice diversity losing the different nutritional qualities and purity of our indigenous variety. Rice, as our staple food, plays a significant part of our culture and tradition. So unless it is proven safe for us and our environment, we continue to oppose Genetically Modified Crops.

Experiences from Green Revolution and GM crops have left organic farmers with no choice to grow their own indigenous varieties. We lose our right to seed, right to grow and right to live by increasing dependence on the external markets increasing the cost of production, indebtedness ultimately leading to suicides. Even under severe pressure we as Organic Farmers Organisations will continue to stand for the organic farmers who strive hard to provide poison-free, GM-free organically grown healthy food for our future generations to come.

We call upon the Philippine Government to heed the call of  farmers and consumers to reject Golden Rice commercialization in the country and uphold rights to safe, nutritious, diverse, organically sourced food.

* INOFO is a Network of like-minded Organic Farmer organisations, with the task to establish relationships between organic farmers organisation all over the world. These organisations can cooperate in pursuing their common objectives as they relate to food sovereignty in general and, in particular, to public policy and land rights, climatic adaptation, production standards and guarantee systems, marketing and pricing negotiations, participatory research, technical exchanges, education, seed sovereignty and other farmers concern, like  strengthen the peasant movement, especially for organic peasants.

INOFO at IFAD FAFO East and Southern Africa Regional Workshop

Joint statement made by FaFo and IFAD  by Julie Nakalanda Matovu & Charles K. Mubanga.

IFAD1’s commitment to fulfil its mandate of fostering rural development has taken on yet another strategic approach of engaging with farmer’s organizations for more effective smallholders’ development. The February 2016 FaFo2  meeting in Rome unanimously agreed to decentralize FaFo to regional levels in the different parts of the world for increased farmer representation, and participation in the development process under the IFAD programmes worldwide. INOFO3 soon after the onset of IFAD- INOFO project, which was implemented by IFOAM4, went to the polls and elected the 3rd INOFO Council, during the General Assembly in Istanbul in October 2014. The council applied for representation on the FaFo steering committee, during the Rome meeting, which was operating at global level, then, and were unconditionally accepted.  

Early 2017, the Global FAFO steering Committee, working closely with IFAD began the process of rolling out FAFO at Regional level. The INOFO council was contacted and elected Charles Mubanga from Zambia as the INOFO representatives on the ESA5 FAFO steering committee, deputized by Julie Nakalanda Matovu, from Uganda.

The major purpose of the meeting was to discuss and work out functional synergies between IFAD and FAFO at the regional and Country levels. On 20th to 23rd May 2017, 40 Farmers’ Leaders from 12 countries and 28 farmers’ organizations, representing millions of small-scale farmers, artisanal fishers, pastoralists met with IFAD ESA Division in Kampala, Uganda, for the First Regional Farmers’ Forum in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

The Regional Farmers’ Forum meeting was also attended on 22nd and 23rd of May by around 260 representatives from IFAD funded projects in 17 countries and staff from IFAD HQ. In fact, the Regional Farmers’ Forum was organized in conjunction with the IFAD Regional Implementation Workshop dedicated to the theme of Financial Inclusion for Rural Transformation that took place from 22nd to 25th May 2017. The four-day meeting was kick started by the first physical meeting of the Regional Steering Committee whose membership currently draws from ESAFF, EAFF, SACAU, INOFO, WFF, WFFP, WFO, La Via Campesina and IFAD.  

IFAD Regional ESA Division welcomes and supports the decentralization of the Farmers’ Forum process and takes it as a key accountability instrument for development effectiveness of the its supported investments in the region. The ESA FaFo Process is steered and monitored by the Regional Steering Committee. Together, the committee members agreed that the committee should be as representative as possible and include, in the near future, representatives of pastoralists from the region.

Key elements of the ESA IFAD-FOs6 Partnerships. ESA FAFO participants jointly decided to focus the collaboration in the region country by country and to articulate country-level action plans. The action plans have been developed during break-out sessions that brought together IFAD Country Teams, Project Coordinators; staff from IFAD funded Projects, and Farmers’ Representatives. Country level action plans were developed for 14 countries, namely for Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The action plans are attached and are an integral part of the joint IFAD/FOs commitment. Elements of the 14 country-level action plans comprise the following:    periodic consultations to monitor country level collaboration and for proposing corrective measures to improve cooperation between IFAD supported projects and FOs ;   support the development of country-level Farmers’ or Rural Producers’ Forums to foster dialogue between national government, FOs and development partners for sustainable rural development;  joint mapping of FOs at country level to explore ways of developing cooperation with IFAD Country Programmes;  Contracts between IFAD funded projects and Apex FOs in support of institutional development of local FOs.

This statement and the specific Country Action Plans were jointly developed by IFAD ESA Regional Division and Farmers’ Delegates and represent a joint commitment that will guide IFAD/FOs country level partnerships between Mid-2017 and end of 2019. 

Other Regional FAFO platforms will be established in sequence, which will include other regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where INOFO already has representation. This is a true reflection of progressive capacity building for OFOs, which was championed by the IFOAM academy under the three-year IFAD-INOFO project, who worked closely with local partners, NOGAMU, in Africa, and OFAI, in India. The INOFO representatives at the ESA FAFO platform hope to continue working with other strategic partners such as the NOAMs7 within the region, OFOs8at local level, IFOAM, and IFAD at country and regional levels to further strengthen INOFO at all levels to utilize the space, participate and benefit from the IFAD facilitate but farmer-led inclusive development process for rural smallholder communities. INOFO recognizes and appreciates the support from IFAD and other development partners for the recognition of principles of inclusiveness, pluralism and heterogeneity of farming systems while working towards the sustainable development goals.