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  • Lena Mäder

Unity in FAO does not lead to spicy debates

After the new Chairs came back from the threshold of death a round of introductions was held and the debate started with the discussion about an app as a new digital platform for rural farmers in development countries. As clarified by the USA it is not possible to put that kind of a data platform in an app, but these are just technical details.

In a second step there was an unmoderated caucus about the two Working Papers, one by the bloc led by USA and Australia and the second one led by Morocco, Mexico, and Iran.

It is no surprise that the second Working Paper was more or less discarded before introducing it, since there was a lack of practical solutions. In my opinion sentences like ‘Precondition of access to the fund: helping farmers in the end’ is just not detailed enough, especially when we talk about access to funding in areas with corrupt governments. On the other hand, I stand behind the idea of thinktanks and incentive projects which was also implemented in the new merge Working Paper 1.

I don’t have much to comment on Working Paper 1. The three main focuses are ‘building up the necessary infrastructure’, ‘the financing of their projects’ and ‘Internally Displaced Persons and Food Related Migration’. You can see the common ground on which this Paper is based on and even though there is a discussion going on about the details, it sure has potential to pass.

A few things remain in the dark that would be of great importance in the debates. The working paper focuses on addressing the effects of underlying problems and not the problems themselves, such as climate change or political differences. Of course, this is a direct help for those affected, but it does not address or displace the root cause of the problems. Which is a consequence of the limited mandate of the FAO.

Concerning the Sahel, which should be discussed because of its importance, neither the problems with the terrorist groups and the associated ground problems, nor the Sahel at all came up. Additionally, the allocation of funds and resources is unclear and unspecified.

Being honest, when I heard about two Working Papers, I was already thrilled to finally have a controversial discussion and maybe also some heated speeches I could write about. Very fast I was confronted with reality, the second Working Paper was discarded, and it went back to ongoing speeches about agreeing and a common consensus. Even though the debate itself wasn’t as passionate as I hoped, it was a very productive session, and it seems like the FAO Committee will be able to pass a well written and quite complete working paper.

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