News & Views

West African Farmers in Direct Dialogue with AGRA and UK Parliament

In a rare, inclusive gathering last month in Accra, Ghana, small-scale West African farmers engaged in a high-level policy dialogue with representatives from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and their primary funders. More than one hundred participants including farmers from Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone; AGRA’s President and senior staff; representatives from the Gates Foundation, Oxam-Novib and other NGOs gathered for two days for a frank discussion on what the farmers themselves want from agricultural research and development. Chaired by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, the policy dialogue included a video conference link with the House of Parliament in London, allowing members of Parliament and senior staff of the Department for International Development to hear directly from small-scale farmers.

Organized as part of a series of inclusive farmer deliberations by the International Institute for Environment and Development, the dialogue represents an important step for more inclusive, bottom-up and farmer-centered processes in policymaking on food, agriculture and land. The series, called Excluded Voices, is part of IIED’s initiative that questions the often narrow interests of agricultural research by allowing citizen juries to examine agricultural development ‘experts’ and policy makers. In Accra, West African farmers also had the chance to exchange with and hear directly from small-scale farmers around the world (Iran, India, Thailand) regarding their experiences farming in the first ‘Green Revolution’.

Click here to download a descriptive photo story of the Ghana dialogue.