Written by: Anastasia Zammit, FAO
On October 28th, 2014 Maria Pia Matta, President of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), presented a solid set of recommendations for the way forward with regards to communication for development in the framework of family farming. The recommendations emanated from the Forum on Communication for Development and Community Media for Family Farming (FCCM), which took place only days earlier at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy.
The FCCM, an official event of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), showcased and raised awareness about the role of Communication for Development (ComDev) as a driver for innovation as well as family farmers’ participation in rural development. It also incorporated and accounted for the results of three virtual consultations on the topic of“Communication for Development, Community Media and ICTs for Family Farming and Rural Development”, held during the late summer (August 25- September 12) via FAO and AMARC’s three regional platforms ComDev Asia, Onda Rural and YenKasa Africa. A global consultation on the same topic was also held via the e-Agriculture community of practice.
In relation to enabling policy and institutional frameworks it was recommended to:
- Build cross-sectoral alliances to promote and implement law and policy reforms in respect to communication and family farming.
- Bring national law and policy on rural communication services in line with agreed international standards.
- Provide formal legal recognition to create a regulatory environment for independent and pluralistic community radios including simple licensing processes, equitable reservation of frequencies and robust funding possibilities.
- Integrate critical analysis of women’s and men’s specific needs and priorities into efforts to develop rural communication services including aspects such as tools, content, implementation and impact.
In relation to investments and partnership opportunities it was recommended to:
- Work in partnership to build the evidence base for rural communication services.
- Urge governments to invest in reinforcing community-based communication service and up scaling good practices.
- Engage in multi-stakeholder partnerships, to embed communication in development initiatives/programmes.
- Ensure that access to infrastructure and services is affordable to rural communities, particularly to women and youth.
In relation to capacity development it was recommended to:
- Develop the capacity of rural actors at all levels, applying a diversity approach, to engage effectively in rural communication processes.
- At the level of farmers: facilitate knowledge, confidence and agency of women and men farmers to voice their needs and concerns, claim their rights, interact and organize themselves
- At the level of development professionals: develop collaborative learning strategies that link directly to and are inspired by rural realities with special attention to gender, class, age and socio-cultural issues
- Develop mechanisms and tools for coordination and partnerships ensuring that communication for development principles are evident and operational, and that thereis support for independent and pluralistic media.
The recommendations were presented on the occasion of the Global Dialogue on Family Farming, which aimed to bring together government representatives, family farmers and their organizations, civil society, private sector, academia and development agencies, to take stock of the momentum created during the IYFF and set the tone for a pro-family farming agenda for action post-2014.
There is no doubt that communication for development has a role to play in this agenda, as the participants of the FCCM agreed that sustainable social and economic development begins when farmers, communities and people are empowered to make decisions for their own lives.