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The Voice of the Farmers

As we have begun this New Year, we have the opportunity to shape a food system that’s even better than before. 

During the past year, we have heard some great leaders – young and old – in Africa talk about their common themes on the vision of a new African food system. I think these are themes which could strengthen any food system.

Resoundingly, we heard the need to promote innovation and collaboration for a revolutionary and modernised agricultural system. More research, training, and sharing of best practices were some of the key ways mentioned in which we could achieve this vision. This also means more stakeholders and players need to come together to partner one another and invest in tomorrow’s food today. Indeed, a modernised food system is impossible without new technology and even mechanisation. However, with limited access to finance and insurance for majority of farmers all over the world, this potential remains untapped. As a result, prosperity remains a mere dream for many farmers in developing countries and work is hard for those in the developed countries too. A new generation of young entrants to the food system are thinking about the value chain and links to specialized markets and products that will lead to better livelihoods. This will generate more production which will also mean greater food security, better nutrition and healthy balanced diets for all. However, until we build resilient and sustainable food systems, all these efforts and gains will be lost by the time the next generation comes onto the scene. This is why we need to have an inclusive stakeholder dialogue and give all players a voice, especially the farmers.

One of my biggest concerns heading into the food systems summit discussions is how we can hear from farmers. We heard clearly during the AGRF 2020 Virtual Summit that we want to speak with farmers, not about them. These farmers are the frontliners of agriculture and should be at the table of any food systems dialogue. Unless we focus on production, we are at risk of losing the global dimension of the Food Systems Summit. According to the SOFI 2020 report, nearly 800 million people go hungry each day and this has been linked to high poverty levels as well as high cost of nutritious foods. Following the job losses and devastating economic impact from the pandemic, our greatest weapon in the fight against hunger would be to increase production, availability, and access to nutritious foods for balanced diets. Our greatest allies would therefore be the farmers themselves. At Emerging Ag, we remain committed to amplifying the voices of the farmers. We hope that this year brings renewed hope, greater collaboration, and fruitful dialogues for a prosperous future.


Robynne Anderson

Robynne has extensive experience in the agriculture and food sector, working throughout the value chain – from basic inputs to farmers in the field to the grocery store shelf. She works internationally in the sector, including speaking at the United Nations on agriculture and food issues, and representing the International Agri-Food Network at the UN.Throughout her career she has worked with farm organisations like the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi and the Himalayan Farmers Association, as well as global groups, to further the voice of agriculture in the food debate. She has also worked with Fortune 500 companies growing worldwide businesses to assist them with issues management and strategy decisions.

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