Forum on Communication for Development and Community Media for Family Farming Final Statement

on 05 November 2014. Posted in Events

MPMATTA

COMMUNICATION: KEY TO FAMILY FARMING

By proclaiming 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, the UN has put family farmers at the centre of the international development agenda and has underlined the need to collectively move toward more inclusive and sustainable approaches and policies in the agricultural sector.

Today most family farmers live in disadvantaged rural areas and face several social, economic and environmental challenges, from access to market to climate change. These challenges are making agriculture extremely knowledge-intensive and family farmers’ livelihoods are increasingly dependent on timely access to relevant information.

However, frequently family farmers and rural communities are not only resource poor but also information poor. Their self-reliance is significantly affected by limited access to information and to communication services. There is a need to support knowledge, dialogue and communication processes that “allow communities to speak out, express their aspirations and concerns and participate in the decisions that relate to their development”

All of the above implies the key role of communication as an asset for farmers and the need to integrate itinto family farming policies.

THE FORUM ON COMMUNICATION FOR DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNITY MEDIA FOR FAMILY FARMING (FCCM)

Over the past years, participatory communication processes and community media have proven to be essential  for the livelihoods of millions of family farmers worldwide. For example, the use of mobile phones and rural radio to provide innovative market information and communication services, is improving agricultural extension work and helping family farmers worldwide to save time and negotiate better rates, often resulting in significant income increases.

The challenge now is to promote institutional and policy frameworks that will allow equitable access to information and communication services, and that will ensure the active participation of family farmers in development processes.

To raise awareness on the role of communication and community media as drivers for innovation and social change in rural areas, an international Forum on Communication for Development and Community Media for Family Farming (FCCM) was held in Rome on 23 and 24 October, 2014 as part of the International Year of Family Farming.

The Forum provided the opportunity to share experiences and showcase evidence of the contribution of communication, ICTs and community media to family farming. It addressed opportunities for promoting rural communication services as sustained, inclusive and demand-led communication processes involving family farmers and the rural population.

More than one hundred participants representing farmer organizations, rural institutions, international agencies, governments, research organizations, development and human rights NGOs, academia, community media and communication networks discussed issues related to:

  • The contribution of communication to family farming
  • The appropriation of communication by farmers and rural actors
  • Need and priorities for communication policies
  • Enabling policy and institutional frameworks
  • Investments and partnership opportunities
  • Enhancing communication capacities of rural stakeholders

The participants of the FCCM agreed that sustainable social and economic development begins when farmers, communities and people are empowered to make decisions for their own lives.

They agreed that communication is key to advance family farming and rural development, and recalled the definition and recommendations of the World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD 2006), especially the need to move towards a rights-based approach.

In order to move the policy agenda in communication for family farming and rural development forward, the participants of the FCCM endorsed and committed to act on the following recommendations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In relation to enabling policy and institutional frameworks it was recommended to:

  • Build cross-sectoral alliances to promote and implement law and policy reforms in respect to communication and family farming.
  • Bring national law and policy on rural communication services in line with agreed international standards.
  • Provide formal legal recognition to create a regulatory environment for independent and pluralistic community radios including simple licensing processes, equitable reservation of frequencies and robust funding possibilities.
  • Integrate critical analysis of women’s and men’s specific needs and priorities into efforts to develop rural communication services including aspects such as tools, content, implementation and impact.

In relation to investments and partnership opportunities it was recommended to:

  • Work in partnership to build the evidence base for rural communication services.
  • Urge governments to invest in reinforcing community-based communication services and up scaling good practices.
  • Engage in multi-stakeholder partnerships, to embed communication in development initiatives/programmes.
  • Ensure that access to infrastructure and services is affordable to rural communities, particularly to women and youth.

In relation to capacity development it was recommended to:

  • Develop the capacity of rural actors at all levels, applying a diversity approach, to engage effectively in rural communication processes.
    • 1) At the level of farmers: facilitate knowledge, confidence and agency of women and men farmers to voice their needs and concerns, claim their rights, interact and organize themselves
    • At the level of development professionals: develop collaborative learning strategies that link directly to and are inspired by rural realities with special attention to gender, class, age and socio-cultural issues
  • Develop mechanisms and tools for coordination and partnerships ensuring that communication for development principles are evident and operational, and that there is support for independent and pluralistic media.
  • The participants also agreed to establish the FCCM as an informal mechanism to advocate for rural communication policies and services and to steer collaboration among relevant actors. The FCCM will be supported by a working group consisting of research and development institutions, farmer organizations, community media, NGOs and universities who commit to putting this agenda forward.


Rome, 24 October 2014

Please click here to access the Final statement in EnglishFrench and Spanish.   

Other relevant links: FCCM page