Interview [ID: 122]

Emerging opportunities for ARD through trade from a farmer’s perspective

World Farmers Organisation’s (WFO) President, Dr. Evelyn Nguleka delivered the keynote speech at the Annual General Assembly of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development. In her speech she highlighted the importance of the Policy on Trade that the Organisation agreed on in 2013.

The common policy brought several challenges that farmers are facing including pressure to produce more and more food in a sustainable manner.

Dr. Nguleka welcomed the invitation to speak in front of both communities – trade and ARD and raise the issue of policy (in-)coherence affecting farmers all over the world. The finite resources, price volatility and climate change impacts are some of the key challenges that in her opinion only joint actions with donors’ support can successfully tackle them.
She identified several action areas, including education and training and making farming lucrative. Schooling and training can boost farmers’ motivation to use new technology and increase production, but also in this way allow them access to bigger markets and other resources. As representative of the WFO, Dr. Nguleka made some recommendations to the Platform to put farmers in the center of policy discussions, to support national governments to formulate policies supporting market access for farmers, to increase investments in agriculture and to build up efficient agricultural infrastructure.

Video

Evelyn Nguleka | World Farmers Organisation

Platform AGA Keynote speech: Evelyn Nguleka, president of World Farmers Organisation. February 2016.

This is a video from the keynote speech, Dr. Nguleka delivered at the last Annual General Assembly of the Platform on the topic of policy coherence between trade and ARD.

Transcript

A transcript of the speech made by Dr. Nguleka at the AGA in Geneva

Thank you very much and a very good morning to all of you.

My name is Evelyn Nguleka. Becoming the President of the World Farmers Organization has disturbed my farming activities quite a lot because I have to be in a lot of places at once. I have not thanked the Secretary General from Italy, who makes sure that I am away from my farm every month. This seems to be his preoccupation. I should say, that I am grateful that I have been given more privileges than many farmers have received. Not just to be able to represent them, but in the process I have been able to learn quite a lot. I hope that at the end of my term as the President of the World Farmers Organization (I am also the President of our Local Farmers Organization). I am not only doing the international battles, I also have to fight with my local government to make sure that a farmers voice is not only heard, but the farmer’s livelihood is changed.

I grew up with my Grandmother and one of the things that I appreciated is that she made sure that I went to school—that makes a very big difference. I could be able to read and write and have a better life than she did. This is very important. Of course, that is where most of you come in. There are a lot of people that we can help. First and foremost, making sure that they have the right knowledge—making sure that they are led in the right direction.
I would also like to thank Mariana. I met Mariana last year at the (inaudible) Farmers Union. If you need clarification, she will explain to you that I am not only busy with the planes and platforms, but I am also busy at home. She visited our Farmers Organization in Zambia and we are working with the government to make sure that Zambia is not on the radar for the wrong reasons, but that Zambia is on the radar to make sure that it is a safe place, we have enough food for our people, and our children are growing up better. That is a model that we all want. Each and every country should be proud to do that and I am happy that I am contributing to that.

One more thing that I have to tell you is that I have had to have thoughts put on paper because sometimes I am asked to recollect what I have said and I can’t remember. You will have to excuse me because I will read, so that next time, maybe next year when you want to quote me, I will just have to go through my files and I will know exactly what I said. Your Excellence says I had a number of ministers and dignitaries who are here today and I am very happy that you are able to be with us. I am very happy to see that we have people from the media. They make sure that what we say and what we do gets out there. Without them everything we do remains behinds these walls. I am very passionate about people from the media because they help us disseminate the information. And some of you may be wondering, why a farmer? Trade is not only about food. For me, it is a very big milestone to realize that on a very important platform like yours, you chose to have a farmer as a keynote speaker.

This gives us an opportunity as farmers to showcase to you that what we do is not only put food on your table, but contribute to a number of things that are not accounted for. A number jobs emanate from the fact that there is a farmer behind the scenes, a lot of industries, a lot of shipping would not be possible if not supported by farmers. It is important for me and for all the farmers, small, medium, and large, from all over the world that contribute to our livelihood. Thank you very much for recognizing our position and what we do. I am very grateful to the Global Donor Platform for this invitation to be here today and to address the plenary on behalf of the World Farmers Organization. The World Farmers Organization is an international member based organization, whose mandate is to bring together farmers organizations and agricultural co-operatives from all over the world—that is an important flag of armor. It represents the global farming community including small and large farmers. The World Farmers Organization has 80 members currently in 50 countries from all over the region—from the north to the south. Among one of the key priorities of the World Farm Organization is to support the process of strengthening and improving their position within the food supply chain. So as to facilitate better management, extreme price vitality, improve the market returns, and timely access to market information at local and international levels.

The World Farmers Organizations’ work covers all agriculturally related thematic areas. These include food security, climate change, the value chain, innovation, trade (which we are discussing today), livestock, women, contract farming, rural finance, youth, research, and extension services. The World Farmers encourages farmers’ involvement sustainable rural development, protection of the environment, and other engaging challenges, such as access to finance, generational renewal, and gender equality. We believe that women and men should have an equally strong voice, whether you are a man or a woman. If you have something to say—you should be heard. Our strength is the central asset for the global farming community.

The World Farmers Organization made sure that one of our milestones was to have a policy on trade. This was unveiled in April 2013 and was presented to the World Trade Organization’s conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013. We recognize that, as farmers, trade is necessary. If you need more details about our policy, the Secretary General is here and can give you any information about that. The policy recognizes that trade helps to even out the demand and supply, take out the imbalances that contribute to food security, and promotes resource use for efficient and economic growth. It is also a way to provide farmers with increased market opportunity, and thereby, helps to improve incomes and the prosperity of rural communities. This is something I say to our government normally.

As much as everyone knows me in Zambia as the President of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union and also now in your countries as the President of the World Farmers Organization. Yesterday I was with one of the board members of the World Farmers Organization, a Swiss farmer that is also our Treasurer. If I were sick here today I would not be exempted from paying the bill because I am a farmer. I still have to pay the bills for my children to go to school, to buy clothes, and therefore, trade cannot be isolated from what we do. Unfortunately, when discussions are made about farmers, we are not thinking about the fact that the farmer also needs an income for their pockets. It is not only the price of the food that we put on the table, but also what income the farmer receives for the farmer to continue their livelihoods. Farmers must be at the center of the global and rural agricultural economies. They are called to produce high quality food for a growing world, to produce sustainably, and to make sure that the environment is safe.

In this perspective, it is our vision that representatives of Farmers Organizations be fully consulted in the decisions to open trade negotiations moving agriculture, including those at bilateral and multinational levels. Being an organization that operates at a global level, the World Farmers Organization recognizes partnerships as the key element for farmers to succeed in our mandate of feeding the planet. We cannot do this alone. With this in mind, we appreciate the partnership with the actors of the Global Donor Platform. We are confident that the Donor Platform members will support the farm community, particularly in developing countries.

At a political level, international donors may support national governments in the formation of policies that grant farmers the opportunity to extend their market access with incentives to investments at the farm-level or to facilitate proper access to finance and liquidity that farmers can use to improve their efficiency and enhance the productivity of their farms. As economic social players in political situations that vary from country to country and even within the same regions, it is very important that farmers through their representatives, like organizations or co-operatives, are fully involved in the formulation of such policies at national and global levels. As agricultural and economic actors, when farmers are compensated with proper income for their work a virtual cycle can be established with positive ethics for the overall society. Furthermore, profitability ensures that farming remains a viable, sustainable career option for the young people and will boost the separation between generations.

When I sit in meetings with a lot of farmers, half of the time I am the youngest and that is something that we need to think about. The young people need to be interested and shouldn’t just do it because they feel pity for the work, but should be able to make an income out of it. Profitability is needed for agriculture to compete with alternative employment opportunities in cities and to make further investment in the social and environmental pillars of sustainability. In this perspective, farmers require reasonable farm good prices, as well as innovative techniques for how low to bring down the production costs at the farm-level. In a food supply chain where farmers are caught between the dealers and the income providers, farmers are often price (inaudible), especially from Asia and Africa where negotiations are very difficult.

As a responsible agri-reviewer, farmers constantly strive to achieve ever-greater efficiency. The efficient use of inputs leads to increased productively and reduced environmental impacts. This is what we pledged, to produce more food and we will take it into account that we will do this in a manner that will not harm the environment. Moreover, farmers have a (inaudible) with the natural resources and a deeper knowledge of the national factors and values of agricultural products, which they are always ready to mainstream with decision-making processes on policies focused on health. In this context, research plays a critical role. Results could be improved by farmers who were involved in the formulation and implementation of such research. Farmers produce a wide variety of food for yearlong consumption. This variety provides a balanced diet with high nutritional values. We produce, vegetables, fruits, grains, and animal products and this is the key to end all forms of malnutrition and ensure healthy lives for all. In this sense, governments could count on farmers’ first-hand experience in the formulation and implementation of policies for food and nutrition.
At the farm-level, through their organizations, farmers should be supported and given access to innovation to reduce production costs and raise productivity. Innovation may include, mechanization at the farm-level, but also building brands for agricultural products or attractive packaging to better place their products on the market or implementation of market practices to better sell their products. Encouraging trade is essential for farmers to overcome the many challenges that are constantly in our lives. One of these challenges is that the world’s population is increasing, but our resources of land and water are not. We are under threat at the moment. I am glad that the Vice President mentioned that this is the price of a few that has brought this crisis and now we are dealing with the availability of water. In many places, water has become a challenge for how farmers are able to produce food. We need to find a balance between the countries that have too much water and those that do not have enough.

Moreover, as farmers, we are facing more extreme climate change and long-term shifts in the growing season due to climate change. Price vitality is also a stressful challenge that more and more are facing difficult trade conditions for farmers in the agricultural markets. Trade helps to even out the demand and supply environments that are contributing to food security. It is also a way of providing farmers with increased market opportunities. It helps to improve our incomes and the prosperity of rural communities. Market access is improved when infrastructure is efficient enough to facilitate product transportation and (inaudible).

Farmers need support to improve their practices at the farm-level. This includes: storage, cleaning, packaging their products, and processing. As more profits will stay in the country, the more farmers that will receive a better return for what they have produced. Almost all farmers in the world are small enterprises and all of them will need to increase production significantly when future demand for food needs to be met. However, the challenges we face are not easy. In this context, international organizations should assist with the development of stronger, local networks through extension services, which often times do not exist through local governments, training, research, and development, implementation of farmers market capacity, and by providing and implementing competitive policies, which allow strong farmer led organizations, including co-operatives and collective market initiatives to operate efficiently. As farmers, we stand ready to work and to strengthen our organizational structures. Farmers should be encouraged to be in groups as farmer owned organizations including, co-operatives, so we can strengthen collective market incentives.

We as farmers believe that partnership is the first element to make the agricultural sector sustainable and successful for all. In this view, we need the support of everyone. We hope that the future could strengthen more collaboration and take the right steps in the direction of a flourishing and efficient trade environment for farmers in the global community. Without cooperation from you, the donors, partners, stakeholders, and citizens, we will not be able to achieve this as farmers. Your influence is very important and I believe that farmers are not going to be able to do this without your help. We need each other and we need to go forward. What would have happened to this farmer if there was not collaboration and partnership from people like yourselves? Would I have been here today in Switzerland? Would I have been speaking on behalf of the many farmers all over the world? The answer is no. What I would like to leave with you, is this question: what are we doing to make sure that next vulnerable farmer gets your help and is able to contribute to a global partner? What are ready to do as partners that is not only one successful farmer? There should not only be one Evelyn Nguleka.

Link

Go back