In July 2013, the Global Forum on Agricultural Researh (GFAR) along with the CGIAR, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) pledged to increase their joint efforts to boost the contribution of science, technology, and innovation to enable family farmers to improve their livelihoods.
As part of this pledge and the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), GFAR is pleased to announce two major e-discussions on ICTs and Family Farming that are taking place during September and October: Communication for Development, Community Media, and ICTs for Family Farming and Rural Development on e-agriculture and e-Debate: Youth sustaining family farming through ICTs on Ardyis. These take place within the context of the Agrifuture Days 2014 International Conference at Villach Austria in June 2014. The conference concluded that ICTs can improve knowledge-drive agriculture for smallholder family farmers.
Since the beginning of agriculture, family farming has been contributing significantly to food and nutrition security globally. Indeed, 70 percent of global food supply comes from more than 500 million family farms, that are supporting rural employment in many countries. To fulfill their promise, smallholder family farmers in developing countries need better access to information, tools, and technology that can transform their livelihoods. In the guest editorial of the latest issue of ICT Update, Ajit Maru from GFAR and Faumuina Tafuna’I from Women in Business Development Inc. in Samoa explain how ICTs help family farmers sell and market their produce; boost their ability to cope with dwindling access to water, land, and soil nutrients; and deal with the extreme climate events, pests and diseases that affect their crops. The authors go on to say that if more of these ICT solutions are tailored to the needs of smallholder family farmers and put within their reach – especially the women farmers who form the bulk of this group – then their agriculture can rapidly move from being a subsistence activity to a successful and sustainable business.
To engage in conversations around ICTs and Family Farming, the e-Agriculture Community of Practice are inviting people to join an online forum from September 22 to October 6, 2014 as part of a participatory discussion “Communication for Development, community media and ICTs for family farming and rural development”, organized by the FAO and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC). The e-Agriculture forum will discuss and complement the outcomes of three regional online consultations taking place on the online platforms of Onda Rural for Latin America, YenKasa for Africa and ComDev Asia for Asia and the Pacific that were held August 25 to September 12, 2014. All the inputs collected during the participatory discussion will inform the Forum on Communication for Development and Community Media for Family Farming (FCCM), to be held within the framework of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), from October 23-24, 2014 in Rome, Italy. The FCCM will identify opportunities, policy options and strategic initiatives to promote rural communication services in support of family farming and rural development.
Another opportunity open to all and specifically targeted to youth interested or involved in family farming and the use of ICTs for agriculture, is the e-debate on Youth Sustaining Family Farming through ICTs on Ardyis. Organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), in collaboration with the African Youth Foundation (AYF) this three-week forum (September 22 to October 7, 2014) will foster conversations on specific themes and questions. In the first week questions around understanding the concept of family farming and youths’ roles and involvement in family farms will be discussed. This will be followed by discussions on how the use of ICTs can strengthen the link between youth and family farming. In the final week will be a wrap up with conclusions and recommendations.