Rome, Italy, September 30th, 2020Today, the Climakers Latin America Community, including farmers first and other relevant stakeholders of the agricultural sector, convened digitally to shine a light on the way the farming community has been reacting resiliently to the climate crisis during COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Jointly organised by the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) and the International Cooperation and Development Fund of Taiwan (Taiwan ICDF), the one-day digital event Farmers’ Solutions to Climate Crisis: Latin American Stories in the era of COVID19offered an excellent venue to discuss how to scale up the best practices farmers are implementing to cope with the devasting effects of climate change, exacerbated this year by the coronavirus outbreak impacts.

The high-level representatives of governments from Latin America that joined the debate included: H.E. Edward Centeno, Minister of Agriculture Nicaragua; H.E. Moisés Santiago Bertoni, Minister of Agriculture Paraguay; H.E. José Miguel Duro Tamausinas, Vice Minister of Agriculture Guatemala; H.E. Rubén Espinoza, Vice Minister of Agriculture Honduras.

Opening statements were also made by H.E. Ambassador Timothy T. Y. Hsiang, Secretary General, International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) and Dr Theo de Jager, President, World Farmers’ Organisation.

The event was composed of two sessions. The first part focused on the experience of farmers from the region in addressing climate change in times of COVID-19 pandemic. Participants in the panel were: Josue Raxtu, President, ALIAR farmer’s cooperation in Guatemala; Emanuel Hernández, Vice president, Association of Producers of Intibucá (APRAIN) in Honduras; Yadira Nerexi Gonzalez, President, Oyster cooperative in Ecuador; Julio Adolfo Lara Mendieta, President, Carazo Seed Bank in Nicaragua; Daniel Juan, President, Cayo District Sheep Farmers Organization in Belize; Aldo David Cabrera Ayala, President, Orchid production and marketing group in Paraguay; Barbara Adalgiza Nogueira Lopes, Advisor at International Relations Office, CNA, Brazil.

They shared with the audience what climate change under COVID-19 outbreak means for Latin American farmers and how they are coping with these unprecedented challenges.

The second panel featured the perspective of high-level representatives of international organisations, governments, private sector entities and academia on needs and potential opportunities for scaling up regional best practices.

Speakers joining the debate during this second session were Hernan Danery Alvarado, Chief Financial Officer, Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI); Efraín Medina Guerra, Executive Director, Organismo Internacional Regional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (OIRSA); Tomas Y. C. Peng, Specialist, Taiwan Technical Mission in Nicaragua; Deissy Martínez Barón, Regional Program Leader for Latin America, CCAFS; Martien van Nieuwkoop, Global Director, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, World Bank; Diego Risso, Director, Seed Association of Americas (SAA); Alberto Broch, President, Confederación de Organizaciones de Productores Familiares del Mercosur Ampliado (COPROFAM); José Ángel Coto Hernández, Deputy Coordinator, Programa Diálogo Regional Rural (PDRR), El Salvador; Raul Roccatagliata, Technical Advisor, F.A.R.M.; Moises Osorto Caceres, Member of Committee for America, World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP); Agustina Diaz Valdez, WFO Gymnasium Alumni and Young Farmer, Sociedad Rural Argentina (SRA).

We aim to make science available to farmers. Scientific methodologies and tools help us to know if a practice contributed to improving productivity, food security and mitigation and adaptation to climate change from the farmers,” said Deissy Martínez Barón underlining the crucial role research plays in scaling up successful farmers’ local experiences.

Martien van Nieuwkoop, on his side, emphasised the role of farmers as part of the solution to climate change, through their still untapped potential related to soil health enhancement. He stated that farmers should be rewarded not only for food production but also for the ecosystem and environmental services rendered to society.

Diego Risso focused on how the seed sector collaborates with farmers in Latin America in co-building bottom-up solutions to fight against climate change.

José Ángel Coto Hernández, Raul Roccatagliata and Moises Osorto Caceres highlighted how fundamental are their farmers’ organisations to support farmers’ members in implementing concrete actions against climate change.

Agustina Diaz Valdez, bringing the younger generations’ perspective into the debate, focused on the role of innovation and technology, but considering how farmers are already innovating themselves and how they are experimenting with their existing resources. “Adults says that young people are the future, I think, that we too are the present”, she stated.

Closing the event, the WFO President Theo de Jager highlighted that never before the world needs farmers’ organisation at local, national and international levels are united and act together, coordinating a worldwide response to promote what farmers are doing, defending their role in political decision-making and protecting their work. “Everything starts with soil health, no matter what or where we farm”, he said recalling the words of Martien van Nieuwkoop.

By the end, it was clear that climate change is just one of the challenges in a wider holistic debate, the one on food systems transformation.

Only collaborating, breaking silos, it will be possible to drive the transition towards sustainable and climate-resilient food systems, giving voice to those who hold an essential part of the solution: the farmers.