Series of activities conducted in celebration of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) prove to be fruitful as various stakeholders, especially farmers’ organizations and NGOs, have expressed commitment to continuously contribute to the development of family farming even after 2014 as articulated in the joint policy declaration called “The Quezon City Declaration.”

During the IYFF Knowledge and Learning Market and Policy Engagement (KLM-PE) conducted at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management in Quezon City on November 24–25, 2014, participants representing government agencies, non-government organizations and farmers’ organizations also agreed that a multi-stakeholder technical working group (TWG) be formed as a mechanism to bring the aspirations of sustaining the development of family farming towards the next steps.

“We need a working group that will focus on the issues we have discussed in the KLM-PE—an entity that will sustain our cooperation and facilitate the identification of next concrete steps to sustain what we have started,” Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong said.

She added that issues and recommendations raised in the KLM-PE will also be brought for discussion in the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD), which is composed of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and DAR.IMG_1643

DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said that the participatory nature of the activities under the IYFF celebration has nurtured further collaboration among stakeholders from the government and the grassroots, thereby, developing common goals for family farming.

“The common goals we now share have enabled us to work together better—with focus—towards a single direction,” de los Reyes said.

With focus and concerted efforts, de los Reyes explained that the goals on developing family farming can be more efficiently met as resources are shared among individuals and institutions.

“I am happy that we were able to celebrate IYFF in a way that it has fostered cooperation that would serve as our springboard to further advance our advocacy on the development of policies and programs conducive to sustainable family farming,” de los Reyes said.

A tool to stimulate favorable policy environment, sustainability

DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said that the Department considers the IYFF celebration as a tool to stimulate active policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems based on farmer families, communal units, indigenous groups, cooperatives and fishing families.

“The policy briefs and The Quezon City Declaration from the KLM-PE will be seriously considered and carefully studied as our reference and guide in revisiting our existing policies and proposing for new ones,” Alcala said.

The Secretary added that the proposals from the agricultural NGOs and farmers’ organizations are the best references for policy reform and program development as these essentially represent the ideals and aspirations of the sector.

“Since we aspire for an enabling policy environment for family farming, and we want to institutionalize the lessons from the IYFF celebration, the best minds to base our decisions on are our farmers—young and old, men and women,” Alcala said.

In observance of the IYFF, DA and DAR, in partnership and coordination with other government agencies and international organizations, have created synergies for sustainability as the agencies promote government-civil society dialogue in policy and decision making.

DA and DAR have specifically supported the call of CSO partners in providing small farmers’ and fishers’ support for meaningful participation and speed up and complete the implementation of laws that promote, uphold and protect their rights. And as the government promotes participation, the IYFF celebration lead agencies have advocated that women farmers be given equal opportunities in terms of income and access to productive resources and assets. DA and DAR have also actively encouraged the youth to embrace agriculture as an equally profitable and fulfilling career track.IMG_1658

Alcala said that as the IYFF celebrations culminate, farmer organizations, NGOs and government agencies need to re-affirm their commitments and sustain the course of actions in continuing the process of supporting family farmers.

He added that as a co-lead agency, DA will continue to spearhead the advocacy in garnering the support of policy makers for the development of policies for sustainable family farming; showcase viable and profitable models of family farms through agro-tourism; and facilitate private sector investments.

“We will also expedite and streamline the implementation of our programs on asset reform, enterprise development, financing and governance to create a conducive setting for farming families to maximize their opportunities in contributing to equal and inclusive growth,” he added.

Alcala emphasized as well the need for reflection and further cooperation among stakeholders since DA cannot sustain the gains of the IYFF alone. He also noted that the Philippines aims to serve as a model among nations on the establishment of multi-stakeholder platforms for policy dialogue.

“Together, let us celebrate our achievements, and looking forward, collectively identify ways to sustain what we have started in the IYFF. We recognize the IYFF not only as a year-long celebration but as an opportunity to reinforce and continue the process in raising the profile of family farming, repositioning them at the center of agricultural, environmental and social policies in our pursuit of inclusive development,” Alcala said.

Alcala hopes that building on IYFF celebration outcomes in the country, the Philippines can be at the forefront of sharing experiences and enabling innovative partnerships and exchange mechanisms at the international level. (Jan P. Dacumos, DA-AFID)(Photo by: Jimmy Camba)