More than 250 participants from 66 countries around the world, including representatives from various governments, international organisations such as FAO, IFAD and ILC, agricultural and rural development associations, research centres, cooperatives, trade unions and other civil society organisations came together during the 6th Global Conference on Family Farming, which was held between 25 to 29 March in Derio-Bilbao.

The Conference focused on the development of the global Action Plan for the Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 declared by the United Nations at the international level and also at the local and regional level around the world. The Decade’s ability to encourage the development and implementation of National Action Plans (established in all countries by governments, agrarian organisations, National Committees of Family Farming and other actors) through concrete and solid commitments to significantly improve public policies in favour of family farming, is key for the Decade to meet its objectives and allow us to ultimately achieve the SDGs.

The VI Conference had two internal working sessions prior to the institutional opening on 27 March; the first (25 March) involved an exchange session between Family Farming organisations and the second (26 March) was dedicated to working sessions for young farmers and women farmers.

During the main days of the VI Conference, attendance was high and there was exceptional media coverage. It should be noted that 27 media outlets that have the largest audience covered the event.

Following the introductory remarks by Marcela Villareal, Director of Partnerships Division of FAO, and Ashwani Muthoo, Director of the Global Engagement and Multilateral Relations Division of IFAD, at the institutional opening on Wednesday, 27 March, was attended by Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu (President of the Basque Government), accompanied by José María Zeberio, President of the World Rural Forum; Josefa Leonel Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission; Mario Arvelo, President of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS); Fernando Miranda, Secretary General of Agriculture and Food from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the Government of Spain and Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit C1, DG DEVCO of the European Commission.

That same day, the National Committees of Family Farming (NCFF) worked hard to ensure that their proposals were included in the Action Plan for the Decade. NCFFs are platforms created as a result of the IYFF-2014 that bring together agricultural organisations (which in many cases lead these Committees), associations, research centres and, in various instances, government bodies. NCFFs from 38 countries had the opportunity to meet at this conference.

On Thursday, 28 March, Gabriel Ferrero, Director General of Sustainable Development Policies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, gave a presentation on the Decade of Family Farming and SDGs. During the day, the working groups’ results of the previous day were made available, and the WRF as well as the people and entities that have made it possible to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year were honoured.

The closing ceremony of the conference was attended by Bittor Oroz, Vice-Secretary of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policies of the Basque Government, accompanied by Maite Peñacoba, Director General of Agriculture in the Provincial Government of Bizkaia; Joan Brady International Coordination Committee of La Vía Campesina; Arianna Giuliodori, Secretary General of WFO; Oana Neagu, COPA-COGECA Director; Lautaro Viscay, Technical Secretary of REAF-Mercosur and Martin Uriarte, Vice-President of the WRF (current WRF President).

The VI Conference resulted in a final Declaration of Family Farming Organisations and Civil Society Organisations, established by the World Coordination Committee of the IYFF+10 and open for signature by all organisations, in which Governments and the International Steering Committee of the Decade are asked to highly consider the results obtained during these days of global efforts in Bilbao.

The VI Global Conference on Family Farming has made a significant contribution to the process of the Decade of Family Farming, which will be officially launched in Rome from 27 to 29 May. As of 30 May, a phase to fully implement the Decade will begin. It is essential in order to substantially improve the quality of lives of farmers across all five continents.

In 10 years, the world will be very different, it will have made progress in terms of public policies, it will recognize family farming as the key actor in achieving the sustainable development goals, taking into account the coexistence of sustainable food systems and family farmers in the aim of a favourable future. This is the shared aspiration that comes out of the discussions in Bilbao and family farming organizations have promised to continue their efforts as guardians of the Decade of Family Farming.

Source: WRF

Travelling 70 kilometers from Machakos town, you will meet the Nthuva self-help group in Kathama location that has 23 members. The group members make a living from production of drought tolerant crops(DTC) and vegetables. The DTC are adapted to the climate of the area and farmers have a guaranteed harvest even at the seasons of low rainfall. Consumption of DTC has reduced over years with current generation preferring fast foods to indigenous crops. However, Nthuva self-help group have crafted a way on promoting and increasing the consumption of the less preferred crops by baking cakes and chapatti from cassava flour, millet and sorghum. Products made from these DTC are known to be more nutritious and the Nthuva self-help group is often requested to prepare such foods during community events such as weddings.  Due to the increased demand of the products beyond Kathama location, the Nthuva self-help group trains other self-help groups on value addition of DTC in order to promote consumption.

A solar drier to facilitate the drying of cowpea leaves

Kathama location being a semi-arid region and heavily relying on rain fed agriculture. Most households lack green vegetables as part of their diet. The Nthuva self-help group manage to bridge this gap by drying cowpea leaves. Previously, drying of cowpeas leaves was done under the shade and took 5days, but with the support of a solar drier, farmers dry their products in a maximum of two days. With the objective to improve agricultural production through better farming methods, value addition and marketing, Inades Formation through the support of bread for the world procured a solar drier that has reduced the post-harvest wastage thus increasing volumes and this also translates to higher profits. During the previous season, farmers from Nthuva self-help group dried over 2,000 bags of cowpea leaves which were packaged in 1 kg paper bags. These leaves are stored for consumption during the dry season. They also dried 5 buckets of cassava. Once the cassava is dried, it is grinded into flour which is mixed with sorghum, millet & maize flour to prepare porridge and ugali. The blended product is highly nutritious and recommended for all household members consumption.

Farmers from Nthuva group drying cowpea leaves and cassava using solar drier

All the members of the group grow the cowpeas for both household consumption and commercial use. Two days in a week, the group members are given an opportunity to individually dry their vegetables for household use while on the other week days, the group dries the vegetables for sale at the nearby retail shops. Apart from improving nutrition, increasing consumption of DTC the group has managed to devise better strategies for marketing their produce to realize their returns. Part of their income is saved in the rural microfinance SOFDEV, a model designed to respond to the financial need in rural settings.

Group plans

The group plans to pilot the drying of mangoes this season to ensure the product will be available even after the mango season is over. Nthuya self-help group plans to hire land that will facilitate large scale production of vegetables and expand their market base of the products beyond Kathama location. The group members have plans to secure a plot of land which is near a constant source of water so as to plant the DTC products they require throughout the year without having to wait for the rains. Nthuva self-group benefited with partnership of Karlo and Inades Formation which facilitated the group with a money maker pump that will be used for large scale production of the DTC. They also intent to secure good packaging materials for their products including branding.

Friday, April 13, 2018, it was just 1:00 pm, when, in front of a crowd of customers, sitting around the tables in the restaurant “Chez Alice” located in Marcory in Abidjan, Mrs. Pauline Epélékou, Director of Inades-Formation Côte d’Ivoire took the floor.

She announced to those who were there for lunch that two new dishes were added to the daily menu: fonio couscous with chicken Yassa and Fonio au Gras.

It was actually a free fonio tasting session, organized by Inades-Formation Côte d’Ivoire to promote this ancestral African cereal.

                                                                     Fonio grains

For the record, fonio has long been cultivated by the people of northern Côte d’Ivoire, where ecological conditions are favourable to its growth and development. For centuries, the consumption of this cereal has been an integral part of the dietary habits of these populations who master its production and cooking techniques. Fonio is also consumed in other African countries, including neighbouring countries in northern Côte d’Ivoire.

Because of the difficult nature of its processing, the consumption of fonio is unknown to a large segment of the Ivorian population, particularly urban dwellers who have become accustomed to the consumption of other cereals such as rice, maize and millet.

Yet fonio is a cereal with many virtues, rich in mineral salts and amino acids. Resistant to climatic hazards, it can easily replace rice and thus limit massive imports. Fonio is classified by Inades-Formation as a sovereignty food and is part of the foodstuffs it promotes through its Sovereignty Food Enhancement Project.

                                            Tasters in front of their fonio with Yassa dish

Giving People the Opportunity to Know Fonio

The objective of the tasting session was to offer the public the opportunity to discover or rediscover the flavours of fonio and get them to include it in their menu.

Moreover, the fact that the tasting took place in a restaurant was not accidental. This choice was intended to attract restaurant owners so that by seeing the interest customers could have in fonio dishes, they could consider putting it on their menu card.

In addition to customers of the restaurant who agreed to taste the dishes, other people from state institutions related to agriculture and food as well as local partners, invited by Inades-Formation, took part in the tasting.

Fonio is Digestible and Delicious in the Opinion of the Guests

The guests carried the first spoonful of fonio dish to their lips, with slight gestures of hesitation for some and confidence for others.

After the first bite, the faces lit up immediately most of the time, pleasantly surprised by the good taste of the fonio. The appreciation did not take long to come. In their great majority, the tasters judged the fonio dish delicious and digestible.

They said they are ready to consume fonio regularly if it is available and accessible on the market.