eDialogue: What future for small-scale farming?

Inclusive transformation in challenging times

Small-scale farmers are critical to food systems in much of the world. Vast numbers of rural households rely, at least in part, on agriculture for their livelihood. Yet times are tough for small-scale farmers, with many being among the poorest and most food insecure people on the planet, who are furthest away from achieving SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 2 (Zero Hunger). Meanwhile, COVID-19 puts a spotlight on the importance of resilient food systems and the vulnerability of poor rural households.

A profound transformation of small-scale agriculture is needed to create food systems that are equitable, healthy, resilient and sustainable. Breakthroughs are urgently needed so:

  • small-scale farmers can earn a living income to afford good food, housing, education and healthcare,
  • small-scale farmers can help produce the right balance of food for healthy and sustainable diets for themselves and consumers,
  • farm families caught in a poverty trap can transition into opportunities beyond agriculture,

These breakthroughs are more vital and urgent than ever given the emerging impacts of climate change and COVID-19.

To develop transition strategies and avoid future crises and suffering, perspectives on the future – 5, 10 and 20+ years -are needed.  It is crucial to better understand how changing demographics, economies, food systems, natural resources and climates will impact on small-scale farmers. This eDialogue will bring foresight and scenario thinking to the challenging questions around how small-scale agriculture can contribute to a future where the world eats more healthily, sustainably and responsibly.

Join this eDialogue with a difference to hear the latest thinking of those working on the front-line to support small-scale agriculture; to explore the bigger picture trends; and to pose your own questions and solutions.

The outcomes of this eDialogue will be made available for preparation of the Food Systems Summit and will contribute to the IFAD 2021 Rural Development Report on Food Systems, being prepared by Wageningen University and Research in collaboration with a global network of researchers.

eDialogue Contributors

The Format

Between July and December a series of on-line discussions, interviews and virtual workshops will be held, these will be backed up by blogs, vlogs and an e-discussion group.  A virtual wrap-up workshop will be held at the end of November.

We get it – many of us are overwhelmed with virtual meetings. We are planning for a flexible and engaging virtual process. Sessions will be summarised and available on-line so you can join in or catch-up later and feed ideas into the e-discussion group.

Vlogs will be used to bring people and local realities to life in the virtual realm.

Session 1: Setting the Scene

July 16: 12:00 -13:30 GMT

What are the key trends and issues affecting small-scale farmers across Africa, Asia and Latin America? With some 2-3 billion people still linked to small-scale farming what does the future hold as food systems change. What is the role of small-scale farmers in creating food systems that are equitable, healthy, resilient and sustainable?

With a set of highly informed speakers this session will open the debate and put the difficult and challenging issues on the table.

The eDialogue Series

Five virtual anchor sessions will be held through to December 2020.  These will be recorded and made available for later viewing.

Setting the Scene (Jul 16): emerging trends, challenges and opportunities for small-scale farming in the context of changing food systems – round-table discussion and question and answer session

Local Perspectives (Aug 27): grounding the dialogue in local experiences with Vlogs from farmers and young professionals – short visual stories and panel discussion and audience questions

Regional Realities (Sept 24): – exploring and comparing the dynamics of small-scale agriculture and food system change across Asia, Latin America, Africa and OECD country – parallel regional round tables with a synthesis panel

Transition pathways and strategies (Oct 22): assessing the options and scenarios for an inclusive transformation of small-scale agriculture with a focus on the specific challenges for different groups of farmers given their scale, gender, assets or geographic and market context – propositions presented by panelists, panel discussion and audience reactions.

Wrap-up and Policy Implications (Nov 26): drawing out the key messages and insights and assessing the implications for national policy and development investments – synthesis presentation, round table discussion on policy implications, closing reflections from participants.