Written by: Valentine Eben, AMARC International Consultant
“Today there are more than 500 million family farms in the world and this is out of a total of 570 million total farms. So what this means is that 9 out of every 10 farms in the world is run by a family, owned by a family, or using predominantly family labor (…) very importantly what we’ve found North, South, East, West for Family farmers is that they need to have better voice, better participation in policy processes (…) their organizations and they themselves need to take part in the decisions that are going to have an influence on their lives. And this is where you [Communications for Development practitioners] come in…"
Thus Marcela Villarreal, FAO’s Director of the Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development, set the tone with her welcome remarks to the more than 70 participants from more than 30 countries attending the FCCM in Rome and those who followed via live stream.
The Director of the Office for Corporate Communication of the FAO Mario Lubetkin on his part revealed the massive media campaign his office undertook the past year to increase global awareness of the important role family farmers’ play towards eradicating hunger and conservation of natural resources.
Another important piece of information that emerged from this morning’s opening event was the Director of the Office for Corporate Communication’s announcement of his department’s new policy decision to make alternative media an integral part of their communication strategy in a world relying more and more on alternative media source for its information.
Equally interesting was the diversity of the participating Organizations, which included farmers organizations like via Campesina, Community media organizations like AMARC and research institutions including 6 universities and private sector players.
The president of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Maria Pia Matta then treated the participants to the essence of the participatory politics of communications for development (ComDev) pointing to its promotion of diverse voices, enrichment of the public discourse and media content, transformative effect on social relations and importance for building an equitable society.
Mario Acunzo FAO’s Communication for Development Officer summarized the objective of the FCCM in the concept of Rural Communication Services defined as “to seek to frame a wide range of processes, activities, media applications and institutional arrangements to respond in a sustained and inclusive manner to the communications needs of rural populations.“
Mr. Rico LIE who facilitated the first session of the day captured the geist of the opening presentations by reminding everyone of the days when every second word from speakers at similar events would have been “participation” to today’s words like social responsibility and social accountability; in other words everyone one seems to be calling for the move from talking to action.