Small-scale farmers and foresters are demonstrating how, by organizing themselves into producer groups, collectives and cooperatives, they are getting more and better results.
The FAO-based Forest and Farm Facility is now rolling out expansion plans to reach 25 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa over the next five years.
The Facility’s technical expertise is already helping producer groups to strengthen governance and their ability to influence decision making, as well as developing members’ management and business skills.
Climate change. Hunger. Poverty. These enormous global challenges and our search for solutions dominate the headlines daily. In countries from Ecuador to Ghana to Viet Nam, smallholder forest and farm producers, including women, youth and indigenous people, are organizing themselves to find practical answers to these challenges.
And it is working. Small-scale farmers and foresters are demonstrating how, by organizing themselves into producer groups, collectives and cooperatives, they are getting more and better results. This means not only sufficient food on the table, but guidance in sustainable use of forests and farms that will help to ensure their children’s futures.
In fact, the entire planet will reap the benefits of the sustainable development now being practised by small producers. So, just imagine what could be achieved if every one of the world’s 1.5 billion smallholders all pulled together. That enormous, collective power would make it possible to achieve most of the global SDGs, the world’s blueprint to achieve a better, more sustainable future for us all. Indeed, significant success is already being recorded in fighting hunger and poverty, protecting landscapes and water systems, and addressing climate change.
By collecting themselves into producer groups that can offer targeted training and support, smallholders in Guatemala say they have learned to carefully, and sustainably, manage the production of nutrient-rich ramón seeds from the Maya Biosphere Reserve. They have also been trained in winning better access to markets for this traditional forest food source, which has led to higher family incomes and improved livelihoods.
This sustainable management of ramón seeds not only contributes to improving the quality of life of the women who process ramón, but also conserves natural resources because producers have learned how to live in harmony with the forests, say members of Guatemala’s Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP).
Guatemala is just one of the partner countries that have been involved with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)-based Forest and Farm Facility, which is now rolling out expansion plans to reach 25 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa over the next five years. This will see the Facility assist even more producers – perhaps to find investments to grow their operations, or a leg up for smallholder start-ups through new business incubator cells, or equitable access to finance to sustainably manage their landscapes and territories via their producer groups.
The Facility’s technical expertise is already helping producer groups to strengthen governance and their ability to influence decision making, as well as developing members’ management and business skills. The results are powerful: timber growers in Viet Nam are obtaining prices up to 15 percent higher than previously won; and by uniting into a single national federation, cashew growers in the Gambia have also seen producer prices jump, and land tenure has been secured for more than 100 community forestry groups. In Bolivia, indigenous communities developed integrated forest and land management plans to strengthen their traditions of well-being. Underpinning all of these successes is the enormous power of producer organizations.
The benefits will continue to spread widely and deeply under the guidance of the Forest and Farm Facility. It is in the best interest of us all to support these efforts, for as producer groups scale up their work, they and their members can continue to help achieve the SDGs. And that is something we can be confident will benefit us all.
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The Forest and Farm Facility is a partnership between the FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and AgriCord.
This article was written by Jeffrey Y. Campbell, manager of the FAO-based Forest and Farm Facility.