FAO and the international Slow Food organization agreed today to develop joint actions to improve the livelihoods of smallholders and others working in rural areas.
Under a three-year Memorandum of Agreement signed here the two organizations will join forces to promote more inclusive food and agriculture systems at local, national and international levels.
Actions will focus mainly on joint advocacy campaigns, strengthening local, regional and global networks and raising awareness of global initiatives such as the International Year Family Farming in 2014. Actions will highlight the value of local foods and neglected food crops while also targeting market access for small-scale producers, enhancing conservation and use of biodiversity, reducing food losses and food waste, and improving animal welfare.
Signing the document for FAO, Director-General José Graziano da Silva said: "Slow Food and FAO share the same vision of a sustainable and hunger-free world, safeguarding biodiversity for future generations. Today's agreement, providing for a number of important joint initiatives, brings us a step closer to that objective."
On behalf of Slow Food, President Carlo Petrini said: "Collaboration between FAO and Slow Food stems from our common purpose in promoting the wealth of local gastronomic traditions, in the defence of food biodiversity and in support of smallholder farmers and producers."
Valuing traditional food
Activities under the agreement include the protection of traditional food products and the promotion of culinary traditions as well as the cultural heritage of rural communities.
Specifically, Slow Food can help produce inventories of local, indigenous and underutilized species that are potentially important to food security, thus supporting FAO's role in revaluing and promoting neglected crops.
FAO and Slow Food will work together to facilitate market access for smallholders through strengthened producers' organizations and cooperatives. Slow Food can support producers to better organize and shorten the food supply chain, including marketing, labeling and packaging, thus guaranteeing fair prices for both producers and consumers.
The two organizations will promote animal welfare as a primary element to add value to animal products and boost incomes for farmers and others in the food chain. Slow Food's role here would be to develop and promote specific guidelines and tools for the implementation of best practices.
Collaboration with ongoing FAO initiatives
FAO will identify synergies and areas of collaboration within ongoing initiatives, possibly including the Hunger-Free Africa initiative grouping the African Union, FAO and Brazil's Instituto Lula. This initiative aims to eradicate hunger from the continent starting with four countries - Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger.
Another possible area for collaboration is support to rural women, through the ongoing Dimitra project run by FAO, the European Commission and Belgium. This participatory information and communication project highlights women's key role in food production so that their interests are better taken into consideration.
An additional possibility is the development of toolkits for the international Education of Rural People (ERP) Partnership, which aims to remove existing constraints and ensure education and skills training for all rural people.
Slow Food is an international, non-profit grassroots organization that aims to promote quality food produced and distributed in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. It has over 100 000 members worldwide and is active in 150 countries. Thanks to its projects and initiatives Slow Food involves millions of people worldwide.