Ensuring that research is effectively addressing the realities of farmer livelihoods, and the factors affecting them, is a key challenge in transforming agricultural research for development.  The Global Forum is putting smallholder farmers’ needs at the centre of the research and innovation agenda, and drawing attention to other critical issues such as gender equity and the empowerment of women, the future of youth in agriculture, and the role of agriculture in protracted crises.

Women in Agriculture

Through the Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP) the Global Forum is developing a collective voice across institutions to push for gender equity and the economic empowerment of women in agriculture.

Nearly half of all smallholder farmers worldwide are women farmers. Yet agricultural research is still focused on needs articulated by men, such as input provision and productivity, rather than those voiced by women, such as labour saving measures, post-harvest value addition or child nutrition.

The GAP is a collective, self-driven global movement with a mission to place gender equity and women’s empowerment at the heart of agricultural policy, research and development, capacity-development and institutional-building agendas. This means re-conceptualizing agriculture not only as a vehicle to produce food, other agricultural products and income, but also to ensure household and community well-being.

The GAP’s priorities are to create:

  1. The evidence and knowledge base required to give visibility to women’s contributions and the costs of neglecting their needs in agriculture
  2. Inter-institutional and cross-sectoral advocacy to raise awareness of women’s needs in agriculture
  3. Collective action and leadership among rural women and girls on practical programmes and international actions that directly meet their needs.
  4. Action on women’s rights at large and addressing gender discrimination in agricultural policies, institutions and services
  5. Awareness in policy-shaping bodies on the need for women’s ownership of and access to resources, and for decision-making roles within agricultural and community organizations and the household

GAP already involves 150 organizations working together to share knowledge and build joint programs. The GAP website and the Global Forum's wider blog,newslettersreports and events, highlight the impact of women in agriculture and innovative ways to improve women’s economic and social positions within the agricultural world.

Opportunities for Youth

The average age of the smallholder farmer is 60, and it’s difficult to attract and retain young people in agriculture.  Without more active youth participation in agricultural research for development, the sector risks stagnation and losing touch with the needs of rural communities. Special attention must also be given to encouraging young people into careers in research and innovation and to giving youth a voice in the changes needed in agricultural education and how to make careers more attractive and valued.

GFAR supported the establishment of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) , a global platform for young people to participate in and contribute to global reforms.

YPARD’s objectives are to:

  1. Facilitate exchange of information and knowledge among young professionals across disciplines, professions, age and regions,
  2. Broaden opportunities to contribute to strategic policy debates,
  3. Promote agriculture among young people,
  4. Facilitate access to resources and capacity building opportunities.

Resilience in Crises

Agriculture provides resilience for communities in protracted crises. The Global Forum is working to ensure country-to-country transfer of expertise and information for use in current and future crises.  As well as providing an immediate response in each crisis, the Global Forum looks to help rebuild institutions and capacities to address the underlying causes of crisis and find sustainable solutions for the long-term. 

In 2012,  FARA, ICARDA, AARINENA  and other Global Forum stakeholders launched The Kigali Movement to call for the resource sharing and investment necessary for agricultural innovation in countries coming out of or still in crisis in the African region. The partners agreed to collaborate regionally to send researchers and other actors for innovation to affected countries, pooling their use of infrastructure at regional level, and offer training opportunities to professionals to rebuild capacity in affected countries.

In West Asia and North Africa ICARDA is sharing its expertise and experience to rebuild agriculture in countries most affected by crises. The Global Forum is working in support of multi-stakeholder initiatives to re-establish systems at country level in the region.

The Global Forum is working with the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on a Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (FFA). The Framework sets out principles to mobilize high level political commitment and promote coordinated multi-stakeholder processes, to inform policies and actions aimed at preventing, mitigating, responding to and promoting early recovery from food insecurity and malnutrition in protracted crises.