Professional farmer organizations: new guidelines for a well-fed world

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Por Catherine Infante
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Providing nutritious food for one in every nine people who are going hungry today means rethinking how we grow, share and consume food. With pressures such as climate change and a growing population, timing is everything. International Standards at the source of the food production chain will pave the way to success – and it starts with farmers.

“We had some tough discussions over two days, but the power of ‘when the world agrees’ could be felt in the room.” Says Alan Johnson of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Chair of Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance (AMEA): “It is great to see so many voices from so many organizations and countries included. The publication of these guidelines will be a major step forward as it will enable a shared understanding of how to most effectively build the professionalism of smallholder farmer organizations in emerging markets.”

Hosted by the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN), ISO’s member for the country, in November last year, the IWA 29 workshop set out to address a key impediment to the success of farmer organizations: a lack of professionalization. Developing the new International Workshop Agreement meant engaging all supply chain stakeholders while also enhancing professionalism in the industry. IWA 29, Professional farmer organization – Guidelines, will open doors of opportunities for greater financial gains, improved supplier power, and increased customer and member satisfaction within professional farmer organizations. The much anticipated document provides a common language along the whole supply chain, ensuring a greater understanding around required capacities and needs for improvement.

Additionally, the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, which sets out the roadmap for a more sustainable world, rings the alarm on food security with its Sustainable Development Goal SDG 2 (Zero Hunger). Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 % of today’s global population. If we are to feed the world in the future, farmers must have opportunities to collaborate in the most meaningful and efficient way. As Rik van Terwisga, Managing Director of NEN, adds: “This IWA shows how standardization contributes to many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and, not least, SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). As NEN, we are proud to support this partnership by facilitating the IWA process.”

The demand for sustainably produced food has never been higher, and an ever-growing population means more mouths to feed. Market players seek reliable partners who can meet contractual agreements, be resilient to external forces and provide the highest-quality crops. IWA 29 helps farmer organizations meet these demands in a practical way, allowing smallholder households to enter the marketplace and capitalizing on impactful engagement in food production.

Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis
Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis

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