Farmers essential to address the food crisis

Brussels, 16 October 2008: In the 7th Brussels Development Briefing on rising food prices, Renwick Rose from WINFA, the Caribbean, passionately underlined the need of a frank and serious dialogue with the farmers on the ground.

He highlighted that there have been very many food initiatives in the last decades, but why did they all fail? He provided a clear answer: Because farmers were not involved at any stage, from planning to implementation. In his view, there is a fundamental difference in how national governments and the EU are treating farmers’ and employers’ organisations. Nobody seems to believe that farmers are capable of understanding the underlying problems and coming up with effective solutions. But in fact, it is farmer organizations “who can best reach out to their members” to identify needs, and communicate strategies and measures.

Contrary to the general assumption that farmers are benefiting from high prices, He showed that there are two or three layers between the producers and the final consumers, such as traders and retailers, who mainly profit from the rising prices.

Farmer organizations do not claim to have all the solutions. What is needed is an intensive capacity building for farmers to enable them to effectively respond to the problems, and duly participate in the planning of initiatives.

Commenting on questions from the audience, he pointed out that ignoring the farmers “leaves out an important part of the equation” and will not be successful.

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