By Robert Jordan, IFOAM
Why are the farmers not being listened to? Farmers in drylands already have many coping strategies. The global organic movement have members in drylands whose community and ecosystem based interventions are regenerating the lands and livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers and food producers.At the roundtable session on Climate change resilience in dryland agro-ecosystems: Improving food security and livelihoods in a land degradation neutral world a question from the virtual audience expressed frustration at the lack of concrete examples of successful dryland projects.
Sue Edwards, an award winning world grass roots leader whose compost based interventions are now being scaled up to at least 15 million farmers in Ethiopia, was unfortunately not given the floor when requested by one of the panelists. Her work has helped to double and even triple yields in the Tigray region of Ethiopia using traditional resilient local seed varieties combined with use of locally produced compost.
Sue is now pioneering new productive and resilient organic farming systems based on ‘push and pull’ and the ‘system of rice intensification’ (SRI), taking these systems beyond rice and maize to local crops such as teff. The Ethiopian government, as a core component of its extension activities, is now scaling-up her compost-based work up throughout the country.
IFOAM, who brought Sue to Doha from Ethiopia, has struggled to find platforms at CoP18 for her to raise awareness of her low cost, resilient and highly productive dryland systems. It reflects the top-down approaches that predominate in such meetings and important forums such as Agriculture Day.
Farmers voices need to be heard, successful interventions need to be heard and above all farmers, their knowledge and their successful dryland systems need to linked, shared and heard. Such farmers must be given center stage both in such important policy informing forums and policy makers, academics and scientists invited to ask the farmers the questions.
Robert Jordan reported live from Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day 5 on 3 December 2012. Robert is the Advocacy Manager at the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture – IFOAM.