The EU and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have launched a major new programme intended to strengthen food security and promote sustainable agriculture in at least 35 countries. There is hope that the programme will benefit forest communities in participating countries, including Cambodia, Central African Republic and Cote d’Ivoire, where Fern’s partners are active.
With agribusiness driving deforestation and frequently depriving local communities of their rights in tropical forested countries, it is critical that this new programme is coherent with EU commitments to improve land governance and halt deforestation. The EU should live up to its claim of being a global champion in development policies by ensuring that new interventions such as this programme do not damage other EU policies.
One essential step would be to ensure that no support goes to large-scale agricultural activities that lead to forest destruction and threaten communities’ livelihoods. In Fern’s view, the scheme will benefit local communities if they are given a meaningful role in decision-making processes and if their tenure rights are being recognised.
[Image of training of community members in VPA monitoring in Ghana by Eric Lartey for the FAO]