More than 350 Panamanian farmer families participated in a round of consultations on a future National Family Farming Plan, and also to identify key aspects of a bill to promote this activity in the country, organizers of the meeting said today.
Producers and technicians from 10 provinces and a Panamanian region participated in this round of consultations, to help define strategic lines of a National Family Agriculture Plan (PNAF).
The consultation took place through dialogue workshops between May 28 and June 14, within the framework of the new composition of the National Committee on Family Farming (CONADAF), in the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí, Veraguas, Herrera, Los Santos, Coclé, Panama West (Capira), Darién, Panama East (Chepo), Colón and the Ngäbe Buglé region.
The attendees agreed on the importance of creating a special fund for family farming that facilitates access to credit and financing with guarantees and interest rates suitable specifically for the sector.
The potential of family farming as a basis to develop participatory research with producers was highlighted, and it was proposed to strengthen technical assistance and promote permanent rural extension.
The participants also stressed the need to recognize their contribution to the production of traditional and healthy foods and facilitate their commercialization, highlighting the importance of permanent participation in local, provincial and national market fairs.
The CONADAF president, Modesto Figueroa, said that "it is essential to share our experiences and translate them into knowledge, so that all farmer families can continue to grow and have better opportunities."
The dialogue process has the support of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), through the Mesoamerica without Hunger program.
Additionally, there were more than 160 representatives of institutions of the agricultural sector, such as the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA), the Agricultural Research Institute of Panama (IDIAP), the Agricultural Marketing Institute (IMA) and the Insurance Farming Institute (ISA).
Representatives of the Agricultural Development Bank (BDP) and the Water Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), as well as FAO technicians, also attended.
FAO said in a statement that with its support, through the Mesoamerica without Hunger program, "Panama has made progress in promoting Family Farming with the identification and characterization of Panamanian family farmers, officially recognized by a Ministerial Resolution in June 2016".
The regional branch of the United Nations recalled that in August of 2017, 11 provincial, county and collective lands Family Farming Committees were formed in Panama, involving 219 family producers’ organizations from all over the country.
"These actions are a great opportunity for the development of the country, but also a challenge to boost family farming in an articulated manner from the provincial committees and at the national level," said Alfredo Mayén, Officer of the Mesoamerica without Hunger program.