Sustaining Family Farming in Asia through Inclusive, Farmer-Driven Approaches
The 2020 Asia Land Forum & Regional Assembly was organised from October 5th to the 9th, with the theme of Sustaining Family Farming in Asia through Inclusive, Farmer-Driven Approaches. The event was held virtually on Zoom, following the Covid-19 travel restrictions across Asia.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a wake-up call on our food systems. In Asia, while family farmers produce most of the world’s food, they remain lacking control over tenurial security and food security, among others. Further, governments’ policies to ensure food security in the times of Covid-19 tend to be partial, failing to take into account the key roles that family farmers play to promote sustainable, resilient, and diversified food systems.
Securing the right to land and natural resources for the landless, indigenous peoples, pastoral communities, women, youth, and peasant groups is fundamentally more relevant now than ever, in order to build back better. Land rights are a foundational element to various pillars of sustainable development: more resilient local food systems; more equitable, labour and youth absorbing socio‑economic models; more sustainable environmental management systems; and stronger local democracies.
The disruption of food chains caused by the pandemic has weakened family farmers, women pastoralists, indigenous peoples in their livelihoods. This is why we need local solutions that take full account of the potential diversity of the region’s food systems. It is within this context that the International Land Coalition (ILC), Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), and the People's Campaign for Agrarian Reform Network (AR Now!) convened this regional event.
The 2020 Asia Land Forum was divided into three sub-events.
1. Regional Forum “Sustaining Family Farming in Asia through Inclusive, Farmer-Driven Approaches” - 6-7 October 2020
In 2018 and 2017 respectively, 51% of the world's poorest and 62% of the hungry are in Asia-Pacific mostly live in rural areas. Ironically, the region has 80% of farming families working on two hectares average and producing 60% of the world’s food. Of those engaged in agriculture here, 50% are women (IFAD 2011) while the youth who make up 19% of the total population in Asia (UN ESCAP 2012), specifically rural youth, deviate from farming due to low income.
Civil society organisations promoted the establishment of country-level multi-stakeholder mechanisms, like the National Committee of Family Farming (NCFF), currently existing in the Philippines, Nepal, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, and India. These NCFFs have members from the Government (except India), family farming organisations, and CSOs. This regional forum aimed to promote and strengthen multi-actor partnerships that contribute to positive policy changes in family farming in line with the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF).
2. Thematic parallel sessions on land issues related to Covid-19 and food systems - 8 October 2020
ILC Asia invited members to organise thematic discussions on land issues pertaining to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on local communities in the region. These discussions were framed in the context of building sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems. ILC’s member-led initiatives have played a critical role in mitigating the crisis by giving humanitarian assistance to local communities, distributing staple food packages, and raising awareness of protective measures.
3. ILC Asia Regional Assembly: Strengthening ILC Asia in the Land Rights Movement - 9 October 2020
The last day of the event was dedicated to ILC Asia’s Regional Assembly of members. This was a closed-door event for ILC members to focus on the governance of ILC Asia platforms, its possible membership expansion, and its progress in implementing the 2019-2021 Work Plan in the times of Covid-19. ILC Asia members were expected to write a declaration on the efforts to reimagine a food system that is fairer, more sustainable, more resilient, and more nutritious in a post-Covid19 world.