By Ronald Joshua
ROME | SAN SALVADOR (IDN) – Family farming accounts for about 50% of Agricultural Gross Domestic Product in Central America. It employs a huge percentage of agricultural working force, ranging from 36% in Costa Rica) to 76% in Honduras.
According to the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN agency dedicated to rural development, about 2.3 million families in the region work in family farming.
It is estimated that 6 in 10 family farmers face food insecurity and 65% live in poverty. Family farms’ heads are, in 85% of the cases, male. Their average age is 49. Family farms’ average extension is 1.13 ha.
With this in view, IFAD has joined hands with PRISMA-OXFAM-RIMISP Consortium to launch in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, a Regional Rural Dialogue Programme (PDRR), a network of family farmers’ organizations, focused on Central America and the Dominican Republic.
The programme, launched on May 18, seeks to promote pro-family farming policies in support of inclusive, democratic governance and poverty reduction. This project, funded by IFAD and the PRISMA-OXFAM-RIMISP Consortium, expected to benefit about 600,000 farming families.
Despite its economic and social importance, the agricultural sector faces significant challenges arising after decades of socio-economic upheaval and more recently, climatic changes, maintains IFAD.
These changes have had a negative impact on development and quality of life among the rural population, most of whom suffer from poverty and inequality, adds IFAD in a press release. This is especially true for youth, women and indigenous peoples.
"Beyond food production, family farming contributes to protecting the environment, biodiversity and cultural identity and promotes territorial development. Governments in the region should devise public policies to address the challenges family farmers face," said PDDR’s representative Abel Lara.
"These policies should include key issues such as: investment in rural infrastructure that is resilient to climate change, technology, extension services and rural finance programmes; access to productive resources (land, seeds, water resources); promotion of local and interregional markets; strengthening rural organizations and involvement of women and youth," said Ileana Gomez, representative of the PRISMA-OXFAM-RIMISP Consortium.
The project will focus on strengthening PDDR’s leadership and advocacy skills, as well as its strategic vision, so that it can play a leading role in the construction and implementation of a regional pro-family farming policy agenda. The aim is to influence not only national and regional decision-makers, but also multilateral donors and cooperation agencies to ensure that rural development projects and programmes are effective.
The PDRR, which is composed of 21 family farmer and indigenous organizations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, will act as interlocutor of the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC), strengthening rural population’s participation in decision making, which it is vital to achieve better effectiveness of rural development public policies.
"Policy dialogue platforms have always been an important part of IFAD’s work. They are an element of both inspiration and advocacy. Similar experiences to the one launched today for Central America have managed to devise and implement successful pro-family farming policies in the Southern Cone and other countries of Latin America," said Glayson Ferrari, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for El Salvador.
The total amount of the project is US$1.75 million. IFAD contributes with $1.5 million and the PRISMA-OXFAM-RIMISP Consortium contributes with $250,000. The project has an implementation period of three years.
The launch event was attended by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) of El Salvador and the Executive Secretariat of the Central American Agricultural Council (SE-CAC), as well as representatives of farmers' unions, rural youth, women, indigenous peoples and cooperation organizations. [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 May 2016]
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