Guyanese farmers participate in global family farming conference

Last Updated on Monday, 12 December 2022, 13:34 by Denis Chabrol

Mr. Javed Ishmael of the West Berbice Sheep and Goat Association and Ms. Cindy Halley of the Central Mahaicony/Perth Village Farmers’ Association.

Two Guyanese farmers are now expected to influence Guyana’s agricultural policies as a result of their participation in dialogues of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming.

They are Mr. Javed Ishmael of the West Berbice Sheep and Goat Association and Ms. Cindy Halley of the Central Mahaicony/Perth Village Farmers’ Association.

“Their experience will serve as inputs for national policy dialogues on the importance of family farmers and positioning small-scale producers at the center of the agri-food systems transformation agenda. FAO has been supporting the work of smallholders in Guyana through a portfolio of projects to improve the livelihoods of family farmers, and the food and nutrition security of their communities,” the Food ad Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statment.

The FAO, together with MERCOSUR, the Central American Integration System (SICA), government authorities and platforms of family farming organizations, held dialogues on the progress of the plans and policies of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming. That event was held in the presence of 10 ministers and deputy ministers, representatives of 24 countries, and 200 delegates. 

The FAO said the farmers were supported by the FO4ACP Programme, which is being implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).

“The Programme aims to improve access to services to empower women, rural youth and vulnerable communities by strengthening the organizational capacity of farmers’ groups in areas of entrepreneurship, business and operational development,” the FAO added. 

The event was held at the FAO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean headquarters in Santiago. Representatives of governments, multilateral bodies, and regional rural organizations committed themselves to developing and implement public policy agendas aimed at empowering family farmers because of their key role in eradicating hunger and poverty and mitigating the effects of climate change.  

 Participants highlighted the need to strengthen family farming by increasing investment and budgets to build new rural development governance in Latin America and the Caribbean. Participants also emphasized that it is essential to direct more investments to family farming to combat inequality in the territories and provide society with healthy and nutritious food produced more sustainably.  

 The events were attended by Mario Lubetkin, FAO Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ministers from Bolivia, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, and Panama government representatives from Uruguay, and members of the Executive Secretariat of the Agricultural Council of the Central American Integration System, the Institute for Agricultural Development of Chile; and representatives of the organizations CLOC /Vía Campesina, COPROFAM and the Regional Rural Dialogue Program.  

 In his speech, the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean stated, “Between 2019 and 2021 alone, hunger figures increased to more than 13 million people and poverty is projected to reach 201 million people and extreme poverty to reach 82 million people by 2022.” 

Lubetkin added: “collaborative work is required to change this situation, and this must be led by the countries, through their institutions, to advance their priorities.” He also reaffirmed the willingness to “continue working with governments and all actors in the region, civil society, and academia, with our technical capabilities to facilitate initiatives that strengthen the bonds of integration and solidarity. I reiterate: this is your home”. 

  “We must recognize this meeting as an exceptional opportunity to generate agreements that facilitate dialogue and the design of differentiated policies for Family Farming and highlight its role in the transformation of agrifood systems,” added Lubetkin.  

The Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of the United Nations Decade for Family was held from December 6 to 7, 2022.