The Quakers United Nations Office (QUNO) invited Prolinnova to participate in a global consultation on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biological diversity. This is the first in a series called “Dialogue to Action “ (DtA) that QUNO is organising with the goals of: a) Raising awareness amongst national and international policymakers that small-scale farmers and the agricultural biodiversity they develop and maintain are a foundational component of resilient, sustainable food systems both locally and globally, and, b) Creating tools and other inputs to support intergovernmental institutions and national policymakers to assist them in developing and advancing policies in support of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity.
The consultation took place in Bossey, Switzerland, on 7-8 November 2016. Chesha Wettasinha from the Prolinnova International Secretariat took part in the meeting. A group of about 30 resource persons drawn from across the world started the two-day consultation by discussing what small scale farmers in agro-biodiverse situations need from government to be able to contribute to food and nutrition security, to maintain and develop agricultural biodiversity and to continue to develop innovative management practices. Based on these needs, the group went on to discuss what producers, providers of goods and services and regulators require from government. What does it need to do in a positive sense? What does it need to do to prevent negative things from happening? Which actions are fundamental? Which are enabling? The group came up with a summary of needs and looked at knowledge/ capacity gaps in government and how to fulfil these roles and the challenges they face as distinct from those of small-scale farmers. Finally, the group worked on identifying key principles/ actions most important for governments and what could be most supportive in helping governments not only to determine its appropriate role but also execute it effectively. The DtA group came up with a call to action – The time is ripe for governments to strengthen sustainable and food-secure farming – that is being circulated widely.