La Via Campesina meets FAO’s Director-General, emphasizes direct participation of peasants in policy-making

PRESS RELEASE | Bagnolet 26 July 2022

Last Friday (22 July) in Rome, a delegation of La Via Campesina (LVC) met with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Dr Qu Dongyu and other senior officials of the institution. The purpose of the dialogue was to re-establish the strong relationship that the two organizations have maintained since 1996, which was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and to advance the joint work to ensure a decent livelihood for peasants and access to sufficient, nutritious food for the entire population.

Morgan Ody, the general coordinator of La Via Campesina, raised the importance of the direct participation of peasants in the spaces where decisions that affect them are made. Citing instances such as The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG), Ody asked for consideration of the revision and adaptation of the Letter of Agreement with FAO, to broaden the participation of peasant organizations.

In response to this request, the Director General of FAO, Dr Qu Dongyu, recalling his peasant origins, committed to facilitating peasant participation within these spaces. He also committed to advocating for the better implementation of the UN Declaration for the Rights Of Peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP). FAO country offices’ active participation will promote the UNDROP implementation process.

Zainal Arifin, an International Coordination Committee member of LVC, recalled that La Via Campesina now hosts the 2nd Vice-Presidency of the United Nations Decade for Family Farming (UNDFF) based at FAO. He said that it opens a shared horizon to find the most appropriate public policies to overcome the multiple difficulties experienced by small farms. To achieve these results, Arifin added that it would be necessary to increase the participation of UN Member States and guide their action to improve peasant access to land, seeds, and water and prevent food-dumping and land grabbing.

Alfredo Campos, also a peasant leader in LVC, recalled that the UNDFF World Forum next September is an opportunity to update the objectives in the light of these new challenges, especially concerning the commitment of governments to strengthen family farming. The FAO Director endorsed these efforts and proposed the organization of a Farmers and Family Farmers event in 2023, which will directly impact the participation of peasants and rural workers at the highest levels of global food and agricultural governance.

On behalf of La Via Campesina and its member organizations, we are thankful to the FAO Director Dr Qu Dongyu and the senior officials of the institution for receiving and listening to us, as well as for expressing their interest in a broad range of topics such as farmers’ incomes, digitalization, agrarian reform or international trade of agricultural commodities. We look forward to continuing this constructive work for the benefit of all peasants and rural workers, but also in the general interest of all FAO member countries.

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