Official Dialogue Feedback to the United Nations 2021 Food Systems Summit
Type of Dialogue
Language of Dialogue Event
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Small-scale farmers and other rural people are the backbone of the global food system. From farm to table, small-scale farmers, vendors, processors, marketers, and others feed their communities and countries, contribute to local and international economies, and preserve the local environment. According to a 2018 study, small farms produce one-third of the world’s food. Notably, women make up an estimated 43% of the agricultural workforce, but lack access to and control over critical assets and inputs, and are consistently underrepresented in leadership and decision-making.
The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit draws attention to the need to transform global food systems so that they work for everyone and ensure safe and nutritious food for all. The urgency of transforming the food system is underlined by the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic increased the number of hungry people in the world by 118 million.
Small-scale farmers can speak for themselves—yet there are significant intersectional barriers to their participation in decision-making processes. Radio can reach the most remote, rural, and vulnerable communities in sub-Saharan Africa, including places where literacy is low and the internet is either too expensive to access or unreliable. By using the combined power of radio and mobile phones, the voices of small-scale farmers and rural people can make critical contributions to discussions and debates about food systems. People can express what they really need and want in order to improve their livelihoods and quality of life, local solutions can be prioritized, and long-standing inequities in global power relations can be addressed. Learning from the vast knowledge and experience of farmers brings the world one step closer to creating food systems that ensure healthy diets and are equitable, sustainable, and productive for all. As nations, organizations, and individuals, we all must commit to listening and taking action together.
Over the course of three weeks in June 2021, and in partnership with IFAD, World Vision Canada, and the Canadian Food Security Policy Group, Farm Radio International collected the perspectives, concerns, and experiences of thousands of small-scale farmers on how to create equitable, sustainable, and productive food systems. We worked with six radio stations in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda to create and amplify compelling discussions around food systems. On air, broadcasters invited local experts, farmers, and other guests to speak their minds and share their knowledge. Off air, we asked listeners to join in with their thoughts by asking them a series of questions and analyzing their responses.
Our goal was to bring farmers’ voices into the global conversation about food systems. Many of these voices represent rural, remote, and vulnerable populations—people who might not otherwise be reached by the Summit, and whose voices would therefore go unheard.
The thousands of people who participated in the On Air Dialogues demonstrated that rural people can articulate what they need to transform their lives, from strategies for coping with climate change to accessing resources and markets. Most see a future in rural areas for the next generation—but say that action to transform food systems and combat rural poverty and marginalization is needed for them to have success as full-time farmers. Their voices are a vital contribution to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit.
You can explore audio recordings of participants’ voices at dialogues.farmradio.org.