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Reciprocate Smallholder Farmers with Genuine Support, SEARICE Urged Delegates to the CGRFA 17

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At the launch of the report, The State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, SEARICE Executive Director, Normita Ignacio, urged the delegates to provide smallholder farmers genuine support. 

Ignacio said that despite the recognition of the critical role that smallholder farmers play in addressing issues in declining biodiversity, the smallholder farmers remain marginalized.

"How many more researches, studies, assessments are needed before we act? And will the efforts of smallholder farmers remain merely recognized and not reciprocated with genuine support?" she asked the delegates in her speech.


CGRFA17 was held in Rome, Italy on February 18 to 22, 2019.

Below is the full transcription of the speech she delivered:

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Distinguished Observers, Friends, good morning!


We commend the Commission and the Secretariat for all their hard work and dedication to come up with this comprehensive report on the State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture.


This valuable piece of work affirms the concerns which we have been raising for many years now. The report says that “Many key components of biodiversity for food and agriculture at genetic, species and ecosystem levels are in decline.” I’m sure that this statement is very familiar to all of us as we already have said it, heard it, and read it in various reports.


A number of other similar studies, assessments, and institutions have highlighted that one of the important measures needed to address the issues of declining biodiversity is to support smallholder food producers and promote agroecology. Yet, smallholder food producers remain marginalized despite recognition of their efforts. It bears stressing that smallholder food producers depend heavily on biodiversity for their livelihoods and very survival.


But I ask: how many more researches, studies, assessments are needed before we act? And will the efforts of smallholder food producers remain merely recognized and not reciprocated with genuine support?


SEARICE’s work with smallholder men and women food producers in many countries in Southeast Asia has allowed us to witness their ingenuity and hard work in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for food and agriculture. They toil not just because their lives depend upon the land; they toil because they want to ensure the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for the present and future generations. But the many challenges that they currently face threaten their capacity to continue conserving and developing biodiversity for food and agriculture. Many of those challenges can be averted or at least minimized if we, all stakeholders, will only work together to genuinely support the world food producers and come up with concrete actions to halt the continuous decline of biodiversity for food and agriculture.


Let us put this valuable work of the Commission into good use. As we return to our respective countries, let us be inspired and encouraged to use the information contained therein to develop concrete plan of actions that will address the issues and challenges presented in the report.


Biodiversity for food and agriculture must be defended and further expanded to meet the challenges of the multiple threats to food security in this warming world. Smallholder food producers feed the world – let us put their interests above all else!


Thank you and congratulations to the Commission for this important milestone.

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