About us

Farming First Steering Committee at its annual meeting in 2019.

Farming First is a multi-stakeholder coalition, not an organisation itself. The coalition enjoys the support of more than 180 organisations representing the world’s farmers, scientists, engineers and industry as well as agricultural development organisations.

Farming First exists to identify and promote the many ways in which sustainable agricultural development can be advanced worldwide. With one shared voice, Farming First highlights the importance of improving farmers’ livelihoods as well as the important contribution that agriculture can make to related global issues such as food security, climate change, and biodiversity. It also aims to build synergies amongst its supporters in promoting Farming First’s mission.

Returning farmers to the centre of policy decisions is fundamental to sustainable development. Governments, businesses, scientists and civil society groups must focus attention on the source of our food security. All these groups must work together to enable the many millions of farm families, especially smallholders, to grow more crops sustainably through effective markets, more collaborative research and committed knowledge sharing.

Argentinian farmer Agustina Diaz Valdez speaking at CFS45 (Credit: FAO/Carlo Perla)

Farming First’s Mission

Farming First supporters all endorse a broad-based framework consisting of six interlinked principles for sustainable development:

1. Safeguarding natural resources
2. Sharing knowledge
3. Building local access and capacity
4. Protecting harvests
5. Enabling access to markets
6. Prioritising research imperatives

Farming First is governed by a Steering Committee. There is no secretariat and it is not intended that one will be created.

Thembi Ndema of the Farming First Steering Committee speaks at the Borlaug Dialogue 2017

Farming First’s History

The Farming First six-point plan was originally developed as a joint call-to-action presented at the 2009 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-17).

For the first time in CSD’s history, three of the nine major civil society groups — each of whom are given a platform to offer policy recommendations at the meeting — came together to present a joint response to UN delegates. The plan was designed to be farmer-centric, comprehensive in its approach, and inclusive of all groups along the food production supply chain. Quickly, the Farming First principles proved to be relevant as a framework for engaging in other international fora, and the coalition’s supporters continued to expand alongside these efforts.

Together, Farming First’s supporters illustrate the strength and value of a multi-stakeholder collaboration as it acknowledges each organisation’s specific priorities and concerns while building consensus for future action. Farming First continues to be one of the most active and diverse coalitions of its kind, and its advocacy and outreach is designed to share knowledge and facilitate collaborations. It also  within these international negotiations.

Governments have welcomed Farming First as a contributor to international negotiations as they understand the importance of including civil society’s voice, especially from the sector’s most important stakeholders: namely, farmers and cooperatives, researchers and extension workers, companies and entrepreneurs, and development practitioners.