During the recent U.N. Food Systems Summit Stocktaking Moment, the World Farmers Markets Coalition highlighted the role farmers markets can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The World Farmers Markets Coalition was launched after the first U.N. Food Systems Summit in 2021. Today, its members, which span 70 countries, point to the many possibilities that farmers markets offer. When managed successfully, they believe that markets can yield many benefits including preserving biodiversity, empowering women, providing agency to consumers, and mitigating risks for farmers.
“Farmers markets do not just happen,” said Richard McCarthy, President of the World Farmers Markets Coalition during a plenary session. But, he continued, “when these ancient mechanisms are reimagined and managed for the 21st century, they are capable of achieving extraordinary things.”
During a Side Event at the Summit, the Coalition built on these points, calling for investment in market infrastructure to help markets reach their potential. Speakers addressed the need for resources to build managerial and governance capacity, offer leadership training for farmers to express their needs, and reposition markets as a tool for innovation. They also pointed to the ways that farmers markets can withstand system shocks caused by extreme weather events, political instability, or pandemics.
“When grocery stores were unable to open [during COVID-19], farmers markets kept going because they knew how to adjust during difficulties,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jennifer Moffitt said during the Side Event.
And while the Coalition welcomed the acknowledgement of farmers markets around the world, they are also thinking ahead to what follows the Summit.
“Impressive leaders from Columbia, Honduras, Tunisia and others in the Global South successfully punctuated the point that the old order no longer works,” McCarthy writes in a press release. “Needs are not being met. It is time to change.”
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Photo courtesy of the World Farmers Markets Coalition