Innovation is a key element to maintaining small-scale and family farming and to creating a model for food and agricultural production that is socially fair, sustainable and healthy. That is why the European Coordination for Via Campesina is holding on the 29th of October the seminar “Small-scale farms and better food systems: what is the best way to include local innovation actors in European policies and research?”
Innovation is a key element to maintaining small-scale and family farming and to creating a model for food and agricultural production that is socially fair, sustainable and healthy. This model endures over time and is viable, but it needs clear support from policies that acknowledge and highlight its commitment to innovation. The future of rural areas lies within a specific focus and correct solutions to the issues that male and female peasant farmers face on a daily basis through innovative processes that will allow agriculture to develop in accordance with the environment and surroundings where it is located.
That is why the European Coordination for Via Campesina is holding on the 29th of October the seminar “Small-scale farms and better food systems: what is the best way to include local innovation actors in European policies and research?” Its main goal is to forge the necessary paths so that research and innovation policies that can favor the necessary innovation in rural areas, in close connection to farmers, consumers and other actors of civil society and for a quality food system that is more local, sustainable, and within the framework of the Common Agricultural Agreement (CAP). In order to achieve this we include a diverse group of testimonies from farmers and from different sectors of society as well as representatives from European institutions.
Industrial, high-productivity farming models create myriad problems from an environmental and social point of view and that diminishes rural areas. Once this is acknowledged by major institutions, such as the European Commission, steps can be taken so that research and associated funds can change this pattern.
Therefore, it is crucial to have civil society participate from the beginning and be included in decision making processes: innovation must explicitly include male and female farmers and consumers in order to develop a farm and food system within the food sovereignty framework. The farmer, the peasant and the creation of a healthy, social and sustainable farming system must be the main focus and the ultimate goal for innovation and research.
Some related field that must be worked on include, among others: innovation in response to consumer demands for the development of new commercialization models, especially in short circuit and direct marketing; innovation in ecofarming models, through the development of sustainable, economic, environmental farming methods; or promoting innovative strategies in genetic plant resources, (avoiding the mistake of financing research, development and innovation for genetically modified crops), in order to focus on acts of conservation for on-site farmers or promoting participative research in conservation, characterization and the use of local crop varieties.
The European Union must commit to innovation and research that allows and favors agriculture that is focused on nourishment, with the peasant farmer and consumer as pillars along with research and innovation that primes farming as a business .