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. A broad-based, farmer-centric, knowledge-centred approach to agricultural development is needed.
The Farming First framework proposes six interlinked imperatives for sustainable development:
- Safeguard natural resources
- Share knowledge
- Build local access and capacity
- Protect harvests
- Enable access to markets
- Prioritise research imperatives
New investments, incentives and innovations are needed to achieve greater social and environmental sustainability, while delivering increased agricultural production. These benefits must be made available to all farmers and agricultural workers, recognising their role as guardians of our shared environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems. There is a need for a radical shift in thinking which places the farmer at the centre of sound and sustainable agricultural practices.
What tools and information do they need to effectively steward the land, grow crops, and then get their harvest to market? What policy environments can help deliver both productivity and sustainability, while leading to a more equitable and efficient production system? How can better functioning markets and sustainable local and regional infrastructure contribute to improved economic development, providing food security, decent work, fair prices and improved land management?