Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies Conference

I have been asked to share this call for papers with readers of this blog. Happy submitting!

The Fifth Annual National Conference of Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies (NRAS) will be held during 27-29 October, 2017 at the Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The theme of the conference is ‘Agrarian Transition’ and Rural­‐Urban Linkages in India in the Twenty-first Century’.

The conference is now open for paper submissions. Please see the detailed Concept Note  and Call for Papers below.

Papers for the Conference can be submitted through easychair.org.

For regular updates on the conference please visit and bookmark the Conference Blog.

The CFS policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets

An important step for increasing peasant family farmer recognition in the global governance of food and agriculture

By Thomas Patriota

layyah-pakistan-fruit-vegetable-market
Photo credit:  Kamran Ali

By Thomas Patriota

This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here.

Today we inaugurate the fourth and last thematic cluster on “Emerging Issues at the CFS: How are they being addressed?”.  Thomas Patriota comments on policy recommendations adopted at the last CFS: Connecting Smallholders to Markets (CSTM). Reviewing the discussions that lead to this instrument, he stresses that the CSTM represent an important discursive affirmation of the primary role of smallholders in agricultural investment and food security. He further argues that the adoption of the CSTM recommendations is a step forward in recognizing peasant family farming within global food governance.

This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com

Increasing recognition of the central role of smallholders in food security and nutrition in the CFS

The policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets (CSTM) adopted at the CFS 43 session last October are an important new addition to the gradual accumulation of policy dialogue and consensus-building on measures for the strengthening of peasant family farming[1] that can be traced back to the 37th CFS session in 2011 – two years after the Committee’s reform.

That session’s policy roundtable on ‘How to Increase Food Security and Smallholder-Sensitive Investment in Agriculture’ saw the terms of multilateral policy debate on this issue crucially shifted (McKeon, 2015). The relative strength of the  discursive affirmations enshrined in the CFS 37 final report regarding the primary role of smallholders in both agricultural investment and food security gradually intensified in the following years. This can be partly attributed to the strong evidence and argumentative basis provided by the HLPE report that was commissioned during that session and from which would emerge the policy recommendations on ‘Investing in Smallholder Agriculture for Food Security and Nutrition’, endorsed at the CFS 40 session in 2013.

These in turn eventually yielded the High Level Forum on Connecting Smallholders to Markets, held in 2015, for which a Background Document previously prepared by a technical task team comprising members of the three Rome-based UN agencies plus the Civil Society and Private Sector Mechanisms also contributed to deepening the quality of policy debate. The resulting CSTM recommendations adopted in July of the following year and their endorsement three months later at CFS 43 are the latest developments in this succession of debates and policy documents.

Investing in Smallholder Agriculture for Food Security and Connecting Smallholders to Markets

Whereas the first set of policy recommendations is framed with regards to investment by and for smallholders, and the second on strengthening smallholders’ access to markets, both documents cover a considerably wide range of interconnected policies, and how these relate to the roles of both state and private actors. But they also bring in a narrative that posits a greater degree of autonomy for smallholders both politically, with regards to the state (through the promotion of greater organizational strength for smallholders and more bottom-up direct participation of organizations in policy formulation and implementation) as well as economically, particularly in their interaction with larger and more vertically integrated transnational private actors (with which diverse forms of contract farming are only seen as potential opportunities for smallholders if and when properly regulated, so as to ensure a level-playing field in both contract negotiation and enforcement).

The CSTM policy recommendations in particular give special importance to ‘institutional procurement’ programs, reflecting an increasing consensus on the benefits for both consumers and small-scale food producers of using the structured demand of state institutions (schools, hospitals, social protection programs) to directly purchase food from smallholders. This increasing consensus on public procurement programs is not only reflected in CFS policy guidelines, but also in reports, programs and activities undertaken by FAO, IFAD, and WFP, as well as in other branches of the UN system – such as the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, through its Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

‘Soft’ CFS policy recommendations, ‘hard’ WTO restrictions, and potential contributions of FAO in bridging the gap

Despite this growing recognition, public procurement and other forms of state support to smallholders in developing countries are considerably restricted by existing multilateral trade rules, as defined by the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and in particular its provisions on Public Stockholding for Food Security – an issue that has come to the fore since the Bali Ministerial Conference in 2013. Indeed, although WTO rules in principle allow developing states to purchase from their country’s family farmers to constitute national food security stocks, severe restrictions apply regarding any form of price support given to these farmers by the purchasing public institutions[2].

Continue reading “The CFS policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets”

Pre-announcement Vacancy Associate or Full Professor in Agrarian Sociology

Excellent position in our group! Click on the title to see the pre-announcement text.

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

On the 5th of January 2017 we will open a vacancy for an associate or full professor in agrarian sociology. We are looking for someone with demonstrated excellence in research and education in the domain of agrarian and rural sociology. The associate/full professor will undertake independent research and participate in (and coordinate) international research projects, focusing on topics such as agricultural and rural development, rural-urban transformation processes, transitions towards regenerative agriculture, and the role of (multifunctional) agriculture in rural eco-economies. The associate/full professor will also teach courses for the Bachelor and Master programs International Development Studies and the Master program Organic Agriculture, and supervise Bachelor and Master thesis students for these programs. Other aspects of the job include project acquisition, training and supervision of PhD students and participation in various research and/or education committees. At least 40% of the time will be spent on research, a maximum of 40% on education and approximately 20% on…

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Food policy panels @ political studies conferences: 2 calls for abstracts

Just a quick post to share links to two calls for abstracts for very interesting international conferences. I have added links to the sessions that I will be co-chairing.

  • International Conference on Public Policy
    Singapore, June 28-30, 2017

T03P04 – Uncovering Politics in Public Policies for Agriculture and Food

  • European Consortium for Political Research
    Oslo, Norway, 6-9 September 2017

Section 69: The Politics of Food Governance

Continue reading “Food policy panels @ political studies conferences: 2 calls for abstracts”

Agroecology for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

This week I am in Budapest attending the Regional Symposium on Agroecology for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in Europe and Central Asia. There are over 170 participants registered representing 41 countries. The meeting will be web-streamed with simultaneous interpretation into English, Spanish, French and Russian.

I am presenting on Friday afternoon in Module 6: Transformative policies and processes where I am mean to give an introductory speech on “Reflexive governance for environmentally sustainable food security policies”.

Read more about the symposium here (you can also find the link to the webcast).

Click here to review the Participant Handbook.

Making headway towards urban food security

This blogpost was written by Miguel Ruiz Marchini, MSc student in Organic Agriculture at Wageningen University and #CFS43 Social Reporter. The original blog post can be found here.

city20crops

Urbanization has been a growing and tangible trend in our societies since the industrial revolution. With climate change and increasing migration patterns, the risks and stakes are higher. The attention on food security has been focused, naturally, on rural production. This needs to evolve. Efforts are underway to transform urban landscapes into resilient systems that foster and support food production, and civic inclusion.

The side event “Urban food policies and their role in sustainable food systems” exposed ‘la crème de la crème’ of forward-looking policy making for urban food security. It was presented by IPES-Food, UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems, Ivory Coast, FAO, and IUFN as part of the 2016 Commission on World Food Security (CFS) Plenary.

Continue reading “Making headway towards urban food security”