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Farming First’s 2017 in Review

2017 has been another action-packed year in the field of food security and farmer empowerment. Join Farming First in looking back on some of the most important moments throughout the year, featuring many of our supporters and partners (pay special attention to #4!).

1. Farming First Helps Chicago Council Highlight Food Security as Key to Peace and Prosperity

In March, Farming First travelled to Washington D.C. to act as media partner at the Chicago Council’s Global Food Security Symposium. Amid recent turbulent political shifts around the world, the central conference theme – Stability in the 21st Century – called on political leaders to make food security a pillar of national security policies. Ivo Daalder, President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs commented, “a food secure world creates new economic opportunities at home and makes America and the world far safer.” Farming First filmed several supporters and stakeholders for Farming First TV while on the ground. Check out this interview with author Roger Thurow on the importance of good nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life, filmed as part of our SDG2 in 2 Minutes series. 

2. Shining a Spotlight on the Women Feeding the World

March also marks the annual spotlight Farming First shines on the women feeding the world – and our supporters that help them succeed. Read about 17 Farming First supporter-led programs that are helping women bridge the gender gap in agriculture. New research was also revealed this year that showed women are gaining more space in agricultural science. According to IFPRI, the number of women acting as researchers in Africa has increased 24 percent. “Female researchers offer different insights from their male counterparts, and their input provides an important perspective in addressing the unique and pressing challenges of female farmers,” commented lead author Nienke Beintema. According to FAO research in 2012, only 24 percent of agricultural researchers in Africa were female. 

3. Farming First’s #SDG2countdown Puts Agriculture at the Heart of Sustainable Success

For five weeks ahead of the UN’s High Level Political Forum in July, Farming First took an in depth look into the five targets that make up SDG2 on ending hunger. We produced a whole host of interactive content – from quizzes to infographics on genetic diversity; resilience; productivity; ending malnutrition; and ending hunger. In this opinion piece, Farming First co-chair Yvonne Harz-Pitre highlighted agriculture’s role in achieving many of the SDGs, calling for adequate investment and support to catalyse innovation and empower farmers.

 4. Farming First Champions #Ag4SDGs at Agriculture and Food Day

Farming First’s #SDG2countdown campaign culminated at Agriculture and Food Day – the first event dedicated to agriculture issues ever held on the sidelines of the High Level Political Forum in New York. As official social media partner, Farming First used the hashtag #Ag4SDGs to promote the message that interventions and investments in agriculture can advance several of the Sustainable Development Goals. Many United Nations influencers including José Graziano da Silva and Thomas Gass interacted with us on Twitter using the hashtag.

5. Farming First Joins WFO Putting Farmers at the Centre of Debate

In June, Farming First co-moderated the plenary sessions of the World Farmers’ Organisation General Assembly in Helsinki, Finland, alongside the BBC’s Dimitri Houtart. Discussions centered around strengthening the farmer’s role in trade and agricultural value chains, as well as mainstreaming the farmer agenda into multilateral processes. A series of workshops entitled “the future we want to harvest” were also held, stimulating discussion on diverse topics such as sustainable livestock, connecting farmers to market and successful risk management strategies for agriculture.

6. Celebrating #FoodHeroes with Devex

Farming First has joined a number of Twitter chats throughout the year, helping to drive forward conversations on a sustainable future for farmers and our food system. In July, we joined the Devex #FoodHeroes Twitter chat, hosted in collaboration with supporter CropLife International, which discussed the future of agriculture and the role of partnerships in achieving zero hunger by 2030. Read the highlights here.

7. Farming First Promotes World Food Prize Winner as He Launches New Africa Youth Institute in Iowa

In October, Farming First travelled to Des Moines to act as media partner at the World Food Prize Foundation’s Borlaug Dialogue for the consecutive year. Accepting his Prize at the global event, President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina announced he would be using his $250,000 World Food Prize to set up a fund dedicated to supporting young African farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs. Dr. Adesina believes the initiative will allow him to continue Dr. Norman Borlaug’s legacy of taking agricultural technologies to farmers, and his own philosophy of promoting and engaging agriculture as a business. Read more on Dr. Adesina’s vision for a prosperous African agriculture on the Farming First blog here.

8. Farming First Supporters Take the Stage at Borlaug Dialogue

Many Farming First supporters were also out in full force at the Borlaug Dialogue – two of them being involved in main plenary sessions. In the session “A Conversation on Sustainability”, Fintrac President Claire Starkey spoke about the importance of partnership and collaboration to reach scale in development projects. IFA Director General Charlotte Hebebrand chaired a session highlighting the importance of increasing fertilizer use in Africa, in which panelists called for a second fertilizer summit to spur action from policymakers on the continent.

9. A New Chapter in the Story of Agriculture and Climate Change

In November, Farming First updated its climate infographic that has been charting the history of agriculture’s inclusion in the UNFCCC process. The impasse on the debate on integrating agriculture into the UNFCCC process was finally broken at COP23 held in Bonn in the same month. Negotiators agreed to have the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) jointly review issues associated with agriculture through workshops and technical expert meetings. They have been asked to report back in three years and if the process is successful, countries should then have more knowledge and methodologies at their disposal to take action. For 28 stories on how climate-smart agriculture is already working all over the world, visit our climate portal.

10. A Year of Expert Commentary on the Farming First Blog

Throughout the year Farming First has had an inspiring range of expert writers blogging for us in our “expert views” section. From the President of the African Development Bank, to the Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we have been bringing you commentary and insights from some of the leading figures in the agriculture for development sector.


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