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VSF International's position on livestock and environnmental issues

2018-06-12

Once again, the debate on sustainable diets and in particular on (not) eating animal-derived products is resurfacing in the media, as illustrated most recently by an article in The Guardian. The paper reported on a study by J. Poore and T. Nemecek entitled ‘Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers’, published in the latest edition of Science magazine. The article concludes that ‘avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet’. Both the study and the article recognize the ‘large variability in environmental impact from different farms’ and the need to deal with the most harmful ones. Still, they seem to overlook the evidence from the 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and livestock keepers for whom livestock is an important source of income and food security (Herrero et al, 2009).

The vast majority of these smallholder farmers and livestock keepers produce meat and dairy in a sustainable way (socially, economically and environmentally friendly). They make little use of external inputs such as fossil fuels, use manure to fertilize soils in integrated crop production and grow their own animal feed. They therefore cause less greenhouse gas emissions related to transport, manure production and use of fertilizers. Moreover, their production systems substantially benefits the environment, thanks to its many eco-system services for climate change mitigation and biodiversity increase (Rivera-Ferre, M. G., López- i-Gelats, F., 2012).

The importance of livestock for smallholder famers goes far beyond the economic logic of certain types of industrial livestock keeping. It benefits crop production, as animals are used to work on the land and their manure to fertilize the soil. It has a clear economic and social value; farmers derive an income from selling milk and live animals, and livestock plays an important socio-cultural role in their lives, for instance as a wedding dowry. Livestock also contribute significantly to improved food security and nutrition. Today, almost 815 million people suffer from chronic undernourishment (FAO, 2015). A reasonable consumption of animal-derived products – produced locally and using sustainable farming practices – could improve their food security and nutrition substantially. Milk, for instance, is an excellent source of macronutrients, dietary energy, lipids and proteins of high nutritional quality (CELEP, 2018). It also provides carbohydrates, calcium and vitamins. But the role of animal- derived products must also be recognized in fighting the so-called “hidden hunger” or micronutrient deficiency, which is affecting over 2 billion people worldwide (G. Kennedy, et al, 2003).

However, consumption of local sustainably produced animal products is still very low in many poor parts of the world. Therefore, its full potential in fighting chronic hunger and food insecurity remains untapped. In parts of the industrial world, however, the reality is much different. In many countries in Europe or North America, overconsumption of animal- derived products leads to obesity and cardiovascular diseases, to name but a few. In these areas, meat and milk consumption clearly need to be reduced. According to predictions by the OECD, in 2025, average meat consumption in the EU will attain about 70 kg per person per year. In Africa – where a big part of the world’s smallholder livestock keepers live and where 22% of the population suffers from undernourishment – meat consumption will only attain 11.3 kg on average (OCDE, 2016). This clearly illustrates the important differences in worldwide meat consumption and the need to nuance the conclusions of this study according to the regions where they would apply.

Furthermore, within the 1.3 billion people depending on livestock for their livelihoods, we cannot forget the estimated 200 million (agro-)pastoralists (Jenet, A., et al, 2016). In arid and semi-arid lands, mountainous areas, non-arable land and natural rangelands, pastoralism is the only possible production system that allows to transform non-edible plants and marginal lands into nutritious food (meat and milk). These lands, which cover half of the world’s land surface, cannot be used in any other way for human consumption if not grazed by animals (Lund, 2007). Rangelands have an enormous potential for carbon sequestration and pastoralists are key to maximizing this potential through their mobility. Well-managed pastoralism also provides important ecosystem services and co-benefits for people, including maintaining soil fertility, managing fires and regulating pests and diseases. Though pastoralism does produce methane, one could argue that ‘without the presence of domestic livestock, methane emission would probably remain stable and not be reduced since the pasture would either be burnt or eaten by wildlife or methane producing thermites’ (CELEP, 2014). This example illustrates how different livestock production systems can influence greenhouse gas emissions and therefore climate change. This dimension is often overlooked in popular debates.

Therefore, the debate on production and consumption of animal-derived products should be set in a wider context, recognizing more explicitly the differences between production systems and stressing their diversity. While some systems are undeniably damaging for the environment and the welfare of the animals – as rightfully put in both the article and the research – others are pivotal for people’s livelihoods and contribute to environmental sustainability. In addition, a stronger focus should be put on the important role of sustainably produced animal-derived products in fighting hunger and chronic malnutrition. Conclusions based on societies marked by overconsumption of industrial animal products should not be transposed to countries where animal products are produced in a sustainable manner and where their consumption guarantees improved food security and nutrition. Nuances are needed, and the perspective of these 1.3 billion people must increasingly be defended in international debates on animal production and consumption of animal-derived products.

Read the article on VSF-Int website

Download the article in pdf

AVSF defends fair trade at WTO

2013-07-11

From July 8 to July 10, 2013, the OMC [WTO] held an assembly in Geneva for specialists in fair trade and development to review the organization's Aid for Trade program. This program is intended, among other things, to help companies in developing countries and in the least-developed countries ”connect to value chains.”

During a round-table discussion, AVSF, the la Plateforme Française du Commerce Equitable (PFCE), and the Ethiquable cooperative (all three of which are sponsored by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Delegate Ministry in charge of Development, within the framework of the Action Plan for Fair Trade) all made a point of highlighting the importance of having a demanding fair-trade system.

AVSF, PFCE, and Ethiquable pointed out the positive impact that fair trade has on smallholders in the South. Fair trade improves the living conditions of smallholder families and helps to strengthen smallholder organizations, which, thanks to the fair-trade system, become more professionized, gain more control of both international and local markets, and become drivers of both local and national development in their respective countries.
During the discussion, AVSF invited

countries in both the South and the North to look to the mechanisms and results of fair trade as sources of inspiration when redeploying policies for price regulation, and encouraged them to adopt public policies that allow for the development of fair trade – particularly policies that give smallholder organizations easier access to loans and subsidies that they can use as working capital and for making investments, and public-procurement policies for purchasing fair-trade products.

Lire notre positionnement COMPLET sur le commerce équitable [READ OUR COMPLETE STANCE ON FAIR TRADE]

Lire notre tribune : "20 ans après, le commerce équitable sert-il encore à quelque chose ?" [READ OUR COLUMN: "TWENTY YEARS LATER: IS FAIR TRADE STILL RELEVANT?"]

AVSF – Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières – is an officially recognized non-profit association that works for international solidarity and that has been engaged in supporting smallholder farming since 1977.

AVSF supports 140,000 families (nearly 700,000 people) all over the world, 75 development projects in 20 different countries (in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean), A team of over 300 employees, 85% of whom are from the countries where the development projects are carried out.

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48

AVSF: celebrating 35 years!

2013-07-09

AVSF: 35 years of assisting smallholder organizations in a combat that is both modern and timely

On June 28, AVSF celebrated 35 years of serving smallholder organizations with an event hosted by Hubert Jullien-Laferriere, Vice-President of Grand Lyon, in the prestigious reception rooms of the Hôtel de Ville in Lyon. More than 300 guests attended the event. ”Our respective visions of the world – of what is good, useful, desirable – are so close that you couldn’t even slide a sheet of cigarette-rolling paper between them. We are both engaged in a shared, common action,” said special guest Pascal Canfin, Deputy Minister for Development.

Smallholder agro-ecology is not just a dream!
During the round-table discussion (”Agro-ecology: just a dream?”), the various speakers all underlined the importance of AVSF’s work to promote strong smallholder-farming systems and to assist in the necessary transition to agro-ecological farming systems. In order to combat the harmful consequences that are now known to be caused by today's dominant farming model (a model which is expensive, purely production-oriented, and which utilizes high levels of chemical fertilizers), AVSF is working to support numerous smallholder initiatives that focus on agro-ecology. The goal is to promote local farming systems that are not harmful to the environment or the land. These initiatives also aim to structure new supply chains that are fairer and more locally oriented, in order to help these smallholders (both men and women), their land, and their products become reintegrated into the markets.
”No, smallholder agro-ecology is not just a dream; it is a modern choice (...) AVSF is one of the first French NGOs to assist smallholders and livestock farmers in their tireless efforts to feed themselves and earn a decent living from their work. In doing so, AVSF helps them resist, at the local level, the absurd and illogical competition from subsidized industrial farming systems around the world admidst an international context where smallholders find themselves at a disadvantage commercially, financially, and climatically,” stated Véronique Moreira, Vice-President of the Rhône-Alpes Region (long-standing partner of AVSF), in charge of solidarity-based cooperation.

The defense of smallholder farming: a modern and timely combat
”Smallholder farmers make up nearly 40% of the world’s population and supply more than 70% of the world’s food. In the least-developed countries, smallholder farming is the principal source of jobs. It has proven its potential. How, then, could anyone continue to ignore smallholder farming in today’s debates on how to overcome the challenges we face in terms of food, the climate, the environment, and employment?” asked Frédéric Apollin, Director of AVSF.
With a French law for planning and orienting policy with regard to development and international solidarity finally in the works, and with the International Year of Family Farming (decreed by the UN) and the round of extremely important international negotiations on the cliamte, international trade, and the future objectives of sustainable development for the period from 2015 to 2030 just around the corner, AVSF’s combat remains extremely modern and timely. When it comes to promoting sustainable, fair, and inclusive development, smallholder farming is the path that we really need to follow.

AVSF: the first merger of two development-oriented NGOs in France
In 1977, a handful of militant agronomists in Peru founded the CICDA association (International Cooperation Center for Agricultural Development) with the goal of empowering smallholders to become actors in the development of their own local areas. From the very outset, this association has been helping strengthen both cooperatives of small-scale coffee producers in the fair-trade sector and smallholder unions for rural development in the valleys of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes.
In 1983, three young and engaged veterinarians in Lyon made a simple observation: Livestock farming plays an extremely important economic and social role in developing countries, but livestock farmers everywhere face major problems in terms of sanitation and zootechnics. VSF (Veterinarians Without Borders) was founded and immediately began implementing programs for assisting transhumant livestock farmers in northern Mali who were severely affected by drought. VSF then went on to implement pilot activities for training animal-health assistants in Africa and Central America.
In 2004, the merger of the two development-oriented associations (which was a first in France) gave birth to an association of 300 employees who, today, carry out nearly 75 projects in 20 different countries in West Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Haiti, and Madagascar.

AVSF – Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières – is an officially recognized non-profit association that works for international solidarity and that has been engaged in supporting smallholder farming since 1977.

AVSF supports 140,000 families (nearly 700,000 people) all over the world, 75 development projects in 20 different countries (in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean), A team of over 300 employees, 85% of whom are from the countries where the development projects are carried out.

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48

AVSF awarded for its innovative work in Peru

2013-06-24

AVSF and ARPAC (Peruvian association) were awarded for their innovative project that focuses on the direct sale of high-quality products at fair prices. The project has had an impact on 5,000 small producers and more than 25,000 consumers in and around the city of Cuzco.

High-quality local products sold at fair prices for 25,000 consumers
With the help of AVSF, the Regional Association of Crop- and Livestock-Farming Producers of Cuzco (ARPAC) was able to establish the ”Huancaro” farmers market nine years ago and has been running the market according to the princple of short supply chains (”from farm to plate”) ever since. The market has been a remarkable success, and each Saturday, more than 2,000 smallholders from 13 different provinces in the Cuzco region come to sell their products directly to nearly 25,000 loyal customers.
This project, which aims to help smallholders directly sell their products at fair prices, has allowed small producers and their families to improve their quality of life and earn higher revenues. The consumers of Cuzco also benefit from both the direct relationship with the producer and the prices of the goods sold at the market, which are on average 20% lower than the prices found at markets dominated by intermediaries.

Out of 105 smallholder-farming projects, 3 chosen to receive award
It was in Washington D.C. that the Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology (FONTAGRO), sponsored by the Inter-American Institute of Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (BID), presented the award for agricultural innovation in Latin America to AVSF and ARPAC for this joint project.
A panel of international experts selected this particular project from a pool of 105 other projects in recognition of ”the technological, institutional, and organizational innovations that have been developed by the smallholders.”

Learn more about ce projet [THIS PROJECT]

AVSF – Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières – is an officially recognized non-profit association that works for international solidarity and that has been engaged in supporting smallholder farming since 1977.

AVSF supports 140,000 families (nearly 700,000 people) all over the world, 75 development projects in 20 different countries (in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean), A team of over 300 employees, 85% of whom are from the countries where the development projects are carried out.

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48

Small producers in Peru are doing just fine

2013-06-17

The journey of the fair-trade potato: from the high plateaus of the Andes to stores all throughout France.
Thanks to the support of AVSF, small producers are able to earn a decent living from their work

AVSF helped the Agropia Cooperative in Pazos, Peru, to develop the cultivation of an ancestral variety of potato: the ”papa nativa.” The Quechua Indians from the high-plateau region (3,800 to 4,300 meters in altitude) are using traditional methods to grow a variety of potato that is native to their region.
The potatoes come in a wide variety of different colors (yellow, violet, white, black, or red), and they are very nutritious – good taste, high quantity of dry material, high level of vitamin C, fiber, high level of flavonoids and anti-oxidants, etc.
These smallholders were living in extreme conditions (88% of the region living below the poverty line) and were faced with a whole array of problems: reduced yields, parasites and disease, lack of organic fertilizers, and only one outlet to a local market where prices are low.

AVSF’s local teams helped the smallholders put in place various solutions:

Technically focused solutions: spreading the sowing period over two months, growing crops in hydroponic greenhouses (10,000 plants per greenhouse), burying plastic tarps to keep away parasites (such as worms), making organic fertilizer (particularly by applying ancestral knowledge on biodiversity), and reorganizing storage and conditionning. Human-focused solutions: distributing tasks equally between men and women, offering training programs, and organizing a supervisory committee to oversee operations. Commercially focused solutions: creating outlets by promoting exports (particularly by obtaining the Ecocert certification) and putting the smallholders in contact with new buyers.

Since 2009, stores all accross France have been carrying the potato chips produced by these Peruvian smallholders. This was made possible thanks to the efforts of Ethiquable, a cooperative that established a strong partnership with AVSF’s teams.

Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF) has been supporting smallholder farming in the South since 1977. AVSF offers professional skills in farming, livestock raising, and animal-health services to smallholder communities that are threatened by exclusion and poverty.
AVSF supports 140,000 families (nearly 700,000 people) and is currently carrying out 75 development projects in 20 different countries (in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean).
AVSF’s mission is built upon the principles of agro-ecology (respecting and working in harmony with the natural cycles, maintaining healthy soil, protecting biodiversity, etc.) and helps smallholders become more autonomous, both financially and in terms of producing enough food to feed themselves, by means of their own production (and in some cases, through exporting their goods) rather than through outside assistance.

Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières: Key Figures

AVSF supports 140,000 families (nearly 700,000 people) all over the world, 75 development projects in 20 different countries (in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean), A team of over 300 employees, 85% of whom are from the countries where the development projects are carried out.

There are more than 300 volunteers and members engaged with AVSF throughout France.

Press contact:
Agence RendezVous RP
Stéphanie Gentilhomme
01 45 41 19 37 /  06 84 61 62 68

Focusing on stomachs in the North to better address issues in the South!

2013-04-18

AVSF is launching its first-ever publicity campaign:
”+ Local, + Heathy, + Fair: it’s better for everyone!”

A positive campaign with a sense of humor to highlight the benefits of agro-ecology
Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF) is an officially recognized non-profit association that has been supporting smallholder farming in the South since 1977. AVSF offers professional skills in farming, livestock raising, and animal-health services to smallholder communities that are threatened by exclusion and poverty.
AVSF defends agro-ecology*: Agro-ecology is an important solution to the problems that rural areas face in terms of food, the environment, the climate, health, and employment.
AVSF is launching its first-ever publicity campaign because the association is convinced of the importance, in both the North and the South, of consuming healthy, locally produced food sold at fair prices.
*Agro-ecology: Agro-ecology is a farming system that follows and makes use of the cycles of nature (for example, the natural fertility of soils and the water cycle). This system increases the lifespan of soils and protects biodiversity: a combination of different plant species is grown in the same field and natural fertilizers are used to fertilize the ground. Agro-ecology brings consumers and producers closer together by promoting shorter supply chains.

A positive, attention-grabbing campaign with a sense of humor:
We have created visuals that grab the eye’s attention and encourage ethical consumption practices. By taking food advertisements and labels and giving them a humorous spin, we hope to get our message accross to consumers and inspire people to support our cause.

The objective of the campaign:
The campaign aims to remind people that, in both the South and the North, it is absolutely necessary, for the benefit of both the producer and consumer, to promote the local production of healthy foods that fetch fair prices at the market.
This campaign seeks to attract the attention of those who support the consumption of organic, fair-trade, and/or locally produced goods, and who believe in the idea of agro-ecology and in the importance of supporting smallholder production. AVSF hopes that, with 35 of experience working on the ground to promote agro-ecology, it will be able to rally the public around these common values.

The campaign has its own site internet [website].

Frédéric Apollin, Director of AVSF, says:
”Our position is directly linked with our global vision of agro-ecology. The objective is the same in both the North and the South! We have every reason to defend common positions in both the North and the South when it comes to defending and promoting smallholder farming. The agro-ecological system that we are defending in Peru, Togo, and Cambodia is the same one that we should all be defending in France: a local farming system that creates jobs in rural areas, that protects the environment and the land, that ties into the social and solidarity-based economy, and that plays an essential role in suppling both cities and rural areas with a wide selection of fresh and healthy produce. At a time when our newspaper headlines are dominated by a scandal involving untraceable 'beef,' it is clear that these are extremely important issues.”

Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières: Key Figures

AVSF supports 140,000 families (nearly 700,000 people) all over the world, 75 development projects in 20 different countries (in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean), A team of over 300 employees, 85% of whom are from the countries where the development projects are carried out.

Press contact:
Agence RendezVous RP
Stéphanie Gentilhomme
01 45 41 19 37 / 06 84 61 62 68
Press kits are available upon request

MEaT2BOMB: a graffiti-art competition to promote solidarity

2013-04-17

The ”VSF Europa” collective is organizing an international graffiti-art competition to be held on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. The ”MEaT2BOMB” competition will take place in four different European cities and will feature 40 graffiti artists. The French installment will be held at the Place des Terreaux in Lyon from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The street-art event will take place simultaneously in France, Italy, Belgium, and the Czech Republic in honor of the International Day of the Peasant’s Struggle.
VSF Europa hopes the event will raise awareness about the importance of smallholder livestock farming and the crucial role that smallholders play in the fight to reduce poverty and curb climate change.

Two prizes will be awarded to the most engaged graffitis
At 6 p.m., after about eight hours of work before crowds of spectators, all of the graffiti designs will be photographed and scored by an independant jury made up of members from several different countries. The announcement of the winner will be made simultaneously in all four cities via www.smallscalefarming.org. The winner will be given the opportunity to perform another work of graffiti art at the European Parliament in Brussels on September 17, 2013, to present to the members of Parliament the results of an awareness-raising campaign aimed at supporting smallholder livestock farmer in their struggle to overcome problems related to climate change. The public will also have the opportunity to vote for another winner: voting will be open for one month following the competition on www.smallscalefarming.org.

AVSF is in charge of organizing the French installment of ”MEaT2BOMB”
AVSF is a French association within VSF Europa. AVSF – Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières – is an officially recognized non-profit association that has been supporting smallholder farming since 1977. www.avsf.org

”MEaT2BOMB” is made possible thanks to the support of LyonBombing
LyonBombing is a collective of professional graffiti artists that was founded in 2008. The group is based in Lyon and specializes in decoration, event-planning, and communication. www.lyonbombing.com

Press contact: Christophe LEBEL, Head of Communications at AVSF - 01 43 94 73 48

If smallholders in the South don’t have the right to use water for agricultural production, they will not be able to ensure their own food security!

2013-03-22

Smallholders in the South need water in order to produce food and ensure their own survival. With an alarming number of people (950 million) suffering from hunger throughout the world, Coordination SUD defends the right of farmers in the South to have access to water for agricultural production. It is a key solution to overcoming the challenge of ensuring food security.

If we want to be able to produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet over the coming decades, we will have to do three things: support the right of smallholders to have access to water so that they can develop irrigated farming systems and provide drinking water for their livestock, promote artisan fishing, and improve water-management practices in rainfed-agriculture systems. Doubling the surface area of irrigated land in sub-Saharan Africa would make it possible to increase the world’s food supply by 5 to 11% by 2050. Boosting food production must be achieved, first and foremost, through family farming. But on the ground, ”competition is growing for access to agricultural water. Large-scale production entities are grabbing vast tracts of farmland and are developing modern irrigation systems on that land, to the detriment of the smallholder production system, which, given access to sufficient water resources, is capable of creating much more added value per hectare,” says Michel Merlet of Agter.

No, smallholders do not waste water! ”The intensive and production-oriented agricultural model that dominates the industry today creates high levels of pollution and consumes large quantities of water,” explains Frédéric Apollin of AVSF. ”Smallholder farming, on the other hand, utilizes traditional know-how to sustainably manage, preserve, and protect water resources over the long term.” Today, water is a vital resource for all smallholders in the South, who are the primary victims of the consequences of global warming.

On World Water Day (March 22, 2013), Coordination SUD will defend the right of smallholders in the South to have access to water so that they can develop irrigated-farming systems, provide drinking water for their livestock, and meet the challenge of ensuring food security.

”Smallholders already produce more than half of the world’s food. They could do even better if they just had the means to do so!” says Céline Allaverdian of Gret. Implementing support programs that are more cost effective and that are based on traditional water-management methods would boost smallholder productivity and ensure that water is used more resourcefully and efficiently. If smallholders were able to double their production, they would be able to feed half of the planet, reduce environmental degradation, and curb the rural exodus.

Agter, AVSF, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, and Gret (all members of Coordination SUD) have decided to put out English and Spanish versions of their report, "Pour une justice sociale de l’eau : garantir l’accès à l’eau aux agricultures familiales du Sud [Fair Share of Water: Ensuring access to water for family farming in the South]," which was first published in 2012 for the World Water Forum in Marseille. Doing so will make their participation in debates (on topics such as reducing poverty or improving food security) accessible to a wider audience.

In 2013, Coordination SUD will take part in a series of international debates on water in order to defend the right of smallholders to have access to and use water, and prove the economic efficiency of such a policy. Coordination SUD will be participating in these debates in preparation for the International Year of Family Farming in 2014.

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48

No Mr. President, development is not just an economic issue!

2013-03-01

François Hollande gave the closing remarks today at the Conference on development and international solidarity, after four months of dialogue between a large group of development actors. The conference led to a step in the right direction, with the announcement of a new law to define policy objectives (planning act) and the creation of a permanent forum for dialogue between the government and the civil society; however, the approach is far too focused on economic issues and these announcements come as a disappointment after months of discussion between 600 conference participants and 12 ministers!

A planning act that will need to wake up the inter-ministerial committee (CICID)
The NGOs within Groupe Initiatives are pleased at the decision to include France’s future development policy in the planning act, which will be debated in Parliament this fall and voted on in early 2014. The preparation of this act, which has been entrusted to the CICID, an inter-ministerial administrative body that has accomplished very little over the past four years, may seem questionable. However, the creation of the National Council for Development and International Solidarity, a permanent forum for dialogue between the government and the civil society, should help ensure that this promise is kept and should be helpful in promoting the interests of people in the South. The fact that this law will be debated at the same time as the 2014 budget should ensure that the necessary resources are mobilized, as François Hollande today just repeated the same promises that have already been made, adding that development aid would increase only if France’s economy were to return to growth.

The social aspect of sustainable development has been left out!
It wouldn’t have been outrageous to expect France to include all three aspects of sustainable development in its future development policy: the economic aspect, the social aspect, and the environmental aspect. And yet, François Hollande swapped the social aspect for security. What about socially responsible development? What about fighting to reduce inequality? What about working to ensure basic rights (access to water, health, Human Rights, etc.)? Development is an economic issue because it is a lever for social change: promoting family farms, creating and supporting small businesses, the social and solidarity-based economy, etc. This social aspect must be taken into account in the new planning act.

”Sharing and inventing”: a good combination...with no strings attached!
”Sharing and inventing”: two pillars presented by French Minister for Development Pascal Canfin in his opening remarks. The combination is attractive and, in principle, responds to the need to encourage innovation in order to promote development. And yet, François Hollande made no mention of this in his closing remarks: nothing about research, nothing about financing the costs incurred by NGOs, nothing about a new framework of collaboration between the government, NGOs, and businesses. He only spoke of ”private funds that can be used” by NGOs!

Groupe Initiatives (a member of Coordination SUD) was founded in 1993 and is a collective of ten professional associations that work for international solidarity and promote development. The associations decided to band together in order to share their experiences and know-how: Apdra-, AVSF, Ciedel, Essor, Geres, GRDR, Gret, HSF, ID, and Iram.
Groupe Initiatives expects a lot to come out of the dialogue over the next few months within the National Council for Development and International Solidarity and in the period leading up to the debates on the new planning act. That way, the Conference will not result in disappointment, but in measures that meet the expectations of all those who participated!

Press contact:
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48

Ten NGOs ask for a framework for company contributions for development

2013-02-20

The Assises conference, organized by the French government, brings together a large group of actors involved in development to discuss what French policy should be in terms of development. Among the actors present at the conference: companies. Many different economic actors are contributing to development via Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER), social business, Bottom of the Pyramid (Bop), and the Social and Solidarity-based Economy (SSE). For the 10 development-focused NGOs within Groupe Initiatives, this is good news...but there needs to be some sort of structure.

The NGOs within Groupe Initiatives believe that companies are actors in globalization and do contribute to development. The new social-business and SSE models, which guarantee a certain ”economic biodiversity,” make it possible to imagine models for development that are both inclusive and sustainable. Change is in the air. Companies are being held to new standards in terms of SER (international standards, the ”Grenelle II” law), new partnerships are being forged, innovation is taking place. What’s missing, though, is strategic thinking on the potential alliances between development aid and companies.

Ten days before the conference comes to an end with closing remarks from the president of France, Groupe Initiatives asked Minister for Development Pascal Canfin and Minister for the SSE and Consumption Benoit Hamon to make sure that the conclusion of the conference includes conditions for a new type collaboration between public authorities, companies, and associations to allow for development operations that are inclusive and sustainable. This would include:

Having the various stakeholders draw up a charter, listing the quality criteria for the operations to be carried out within the framework of this collaboration. Acknowledging the need to respect SER and Human-Rights criteria in all company initiatives for development. Contractual conditions and structural public support to finance and sponsor associations that work for solidarity, who are the stakeholders in these operations. The possibility of co-investing in operations, in particular to finanace the development of social-business projects, which are practically non-existant in France. Using taxation as part of a public policy to support both ”business law” and people’s access to basic services: incompatibility between supporting the creation ”of socially responsible businesses” and using tax optimization to avoid having to pay taxes; mobilization of fiscal policies in partner countries for SER; tax incentives for companies that invest in these operations; and a tax system that benefits socially responsible businesses.


Groupe Initiatives (member of Coordination SUD) was founded in 1993 and is a collective of ten professional associations that are international-solidarity actors and that are committed to promoting development. These associations have come together in order to team up and share their expertise and know-how: Aprda-, AVSF, Ciedel, Essor, Geres, GRDR, Gret, HSF, ID, and Iram. Read all of Groupe Initiatives pour les Assises [Groupe Initiative's positions for the conference].

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48

AVSF supports Haiti

2012-11-16

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which caused vast amounts of destruction throughout Haiti, AVSF continues to support smallholder families on the island through 17 different development programs.

Smallholders and plantations hit hard by the storm
On October 25 and 26, Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean, causing a great deal of damage. The hurricane left more than 50 people dead, and nearly 18,000 people had to move into temporary shelters. Many homes were severely damaged.

Nearly three years after the terrible January 12, 2010 earthquake, which ravaged Port-au-Prince and the rural zones in the southeastern part of the country, Hurricane Sandy added itself to the growing list of disasters that seem to regularly befall Haiti, one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural disasters.

The agricultural destruction was catastrophic in several regions around the island, especially for those living in country’s Sud department. Nearly 70% of certain food crops (banana, avocado, vetiver, yam, mango, and other varieties fruit) were destroyed. Many animals died of cold in the Haitian mountains. The country’s carrot, cabbage, and bean crops were completely destroyed.

Hurricane leaves food crisis in its wake
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there is now worry that a major food crisis could hit the country in about six months time. More than 11% of the Haitian population already suffers directly from hunger and is barely able to ensure just one meal per day.

AVSF currently carries out 17 projets de développement en Haïti [17 DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN HAITI]. Now more than ever, AVSF stands by Haiti’s smallholder families to help them get back on their feet after suffering these disasters. You can help them as well, by supporting our programs and by mailing a check (made out to ”AVSF supports Haiti”) to AVSF – 45 bis, avenue de la Belle Gabrielle 94736 Nougent-sur-Marne. Or, you can make a donation on our page sécurisée [SECURE WEBPAGE].

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48

AVSF receives solidarity-based financing from Crédit Coopératif

2012-11-15

Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF) was chosen by Crédit Coopératif to receive the second Solidarity Quota (QPS), applied to its most-recent bond issue. QPS is an innovative mechanism for solidarity-based financing, whereby the rate is fixed at 0.02% of the amount borrowed. The mechanism, which was created by Crédit Coopératif in 2010, is intended to promote development. In this case, 10,000 euros, or 0.02% of the 50 million euros borrowed, will be allocated to support AVSF’s activity in Mongolia. AVSF’s objective is to develop alternative economic resources in developing countries, while also providing professional expertise in terms of farming, livestock raising, and animal health.

Crédit Coopératif has implemented this operation within the framework of a broader ambition: to create and implement innovative solidarity-based financing. With this in mind, the bank has developed a line of solidarity-based products (a savings account where a portion of the interest earned goes to support an organization, a bank card where a donation is made to an organization each time a transaction is made, a solidarity-based investment fund, etc.) for its clients. Crédit Coopératif also thinks up mechanisms for financing solidarity-based initiatives by channeling funds from its own activities. For instance, the bank has developed a system for making donations to partner associations through the Carte Agir bank card. This system has since been expanded to include foreign-exchange transactions (CVTC, which is the French acronym for the ”Voluntary Contribution on Foreign Exchange Transactions”) and bond issues (QPS).

The QPS will be used to support AVSF’s project for developing the business of the first Mongolian cooperative to export yak fiber

In 2010, a group of 70 nomadic livestock farmers in the Khangai mountains founded the Ar Arvidjin Delgerekh Cooperative, the first cooperative to export yak fiber. By supporting the Ar Arvidjin Delgerekh Cooperative, AVSF is continuing its engagement to help structure innovative supply chains and communicate the value of these supply chains and the role they play in the socio-economic development of smallholder communities. This project is part of a broader objective to develop alternative economic resources for the sake of promoting social responsibility and fairness. AVSF is helping to ensure the continuity of nomadic livestock farming in Mongolia by training the livestock farmers in basic veterinarian skills and natural-resource management, and by helping them add value to their livestock-farming products and market those products as well. AVSF makes a point of putting in place methods of governance that are in line with the principles of fair trade.

About Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF) 

AVSF, an officially recognized French non-profit association, has been assisting smallholder communities in developing countries in their food-production activities for the past 35 years. The association provides them with professional skills in farming, livestock raising, and animal health: technical support, financial support, training, access to markets, etc.

Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières carries out more than 90 cooperation programs in 20 different countries in Central and South America, Asia, and Africa. Through these programs, AVSF works alongside smallholder societies that depend upon crop and livestock farming in order to ensure their food security as well as the economic and social development of their community.

About Crédit Coopératif

Crédit Coopératif is a cooperative bank that serves actors who are working to ensure a more ethical economy. The bank strives to assist in the development of legal entities within the social-economy movement: cooperatives and company groups, associations, mutuals, and more generally, all organizations working for the general good. Crédit Coopératif also has a growing base of retail customers, who are attracted by the bank’s vision.

Crédit Coopératif is a national cooperative bank and is present in every region of France, with a network of more than 70 branches.


http://www.credit-cooperatif.coop/

Contact: Crédit Coopératif Claude Sevaistre 01 47 24 89 71 / 06 16 36 16 47
Contact: AVSF Christophe Lebel 01 43 94 73 48

Producing and eating healthy foods: AVSF invites you to a series of discussions between French and African livestock farmers

2012-10-04

AVSF invites you to attend a series of discussions featuring French and African livestock farmers. The events will be held between October 13 and 17. It will be a great chance to get together with others and discuss how to produce and eat healthier.

Five international discussions between French and African livestock farmers
AVSF will be welcoming a group of Malian and Nigerian livestock farmers to France from October 13 to 17, 2012. Their visit to France will be an occasion for them to meet and talk to French smallholder livestock farmers about the problems they face with regard to climate change – for example, the ways in which climate change impacts how they manage their livestock, ways to adapt, etc.
Five dates to remember

October 13: at the farm of Gérard Fournier-Bidoz in Serraval – Haute Savoie department October 14: at the farm of the St. Luce GAEC [collective farming group] (in the morning) and at the farm of Etienne Mary in Salette (in the afternoon) – Isère department October 15: at the farm of Eric Palisse in St. Bathélémy le Plain (in the morning) and at the farm of the Sampeyroux GAEC in Glun (in the afternoon) – Ardèche department October 16: at the farm of the Pis Vert GAEC in Pomeys (in the morning) and at the farm of Geneviève and Michel Fayolle in Larajasse (in the afternoon) – Rhône department October 17: at a farm in St-André-la-Côté (in the afternoon) – Rhône department

Conferences will also be held to address the role that livestock farmers and consumers both play in the fight to curb climate change:
- In Valence, at the ”Le Valentin” agricultural high-school – October 15, at 8 p.m.
- In Marcy l’Étoile, at the Vetagrosup vetrinary school – October 17, at 5:15 p.m.

A European network serving a global cause
These events are part of a broader European project led by AVSF that aims to educate people about development, with a special focus on ”smallholder livestock farming and climate change.” The project is carried out in partnership with the European Commission, the French Development Agency, and the Rhône-Alpes Region. These meetings are made possible thanks to the support of the AFDI and the Résagri of the Rhône-Alpes Regional Chamber of Agriculture.
Follow this project at www.smallscalefarming.org

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL // 01 43 94 73 48

AVSF to attend the 2012 SPACE International Livestock Trade Fair

2012-09-04

AVSF – Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières – invites you to attend the International Livestock Trade Fair (the SPACE exhibition in Rennes, September 13-16, 2012), because livestock farming is essential to helping feed the planet.

Defending smallholder crop and livestock farming
AVSF and its regional delegation in Brittany will be in attendance at the SPACE exhibition in Rennes, which will run from September 13 to 16, 2012. AVSF is looking forward to presenting its projects and informing visitors about the reasons why the association defends smallholder crop and livestock farming. With 35 years of experience working with smallholders in developing countries, AVSF has a thorough understanding of the condition of smallholders, the challenges they face, and the concrete improvements that have been made over the years.
René Bleuzen, a former livestock farmer in Brittany who now volunteers for AVSF as the association’s regional representative in Brittany, will be there to greet you and to tell you about the various projects that AVSF is carrying out on the ground.

The world needs livestock farming
According to estimates of future demographics, global demand for animal proteins will increase by 50% between now and 2050. In poor rural areas, livestock farming is an absolutely fundamental source of food. Animals also provide milk, hide, wool, manure, and are used as draft animals. Clearly, they are extremely valuable to smallholder families.
Since livestock farming is an essential part of the daily lives of rural families, AVSF works to support this activity in several different ways:

developing livestock farming and animal health, increasing the economic value of the products of crop and livestock farming, ensuring that natural resources are preserved and managed in a sustainable way, helping smallholder and livestock farmers adapt to climate change, carrying out advocacy activities in both the South and the North.

Press contact
Christophe LEBEL // 01 43 94 73 48

Food security and family farming: AVSF’s experiment in Africa

2012-06-04

AVSF invites you to attend a round-table discussion on the topic of food and agriculture in Africa. The discussion will be led by Bruno Cras, journalist and columnist for Europe 1. The event will take place on Friday, June 22, 2012, at 3 p.m. at AgroParisTech Engref.

Experiments carried out on the ground to help reduce hunger
For the past 35 years, AVSF has seen its cooperation activities as experiments. These experiments allow us to actually see, on the ground, which conditions best enable people living in rural areas to ensure their own food security and help feed urban areas. Three of these important experiments will be presented on June 22, at 3 p.m.
This round-table discussion will be an opportunity for people involved in agricultural development to discuss their respective points of view. They will share their thoughts about the experiments presented by AVSF’s partners and teams in West Africa and Madagascar. The full program for the event is indicated below.

Local solutions for feeding the African continent
Africa currently faces a considerable food challenge as a result of its demographic growth. Rapid urbanization has led to a growing need to provide access to food for the poor and people living on low income in medium- to large-sized cities.
But it is public, economic, and rural-development policies at the national level that must create these conditions in order to ensure that people living in rural areas have enough to eat, cities are supplied with sufficient amounts of food, and the rural exodus into urban areas is checked. Such policies should allow smallholders and their families to live off their land and from their work, and should therefore considerably reduce imports of wheat from Europe and America, and rice from Asia.

Press contact: Christophe LEBEL // 01 43 94 73 48

AVSF invites you to a sizzling ”hot” party!

2012-04-10

To protest the negative effects that global warming has on small-scale livestock farmers, AVSF invites you to attend a ”hot” party starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at the Place des Terreaux in Lyon. The event will feature: Super-cow, an artistic performance, a big fresco painted in real time, street theater, etc.

Smallholders: the main victims of climate change
The VSF Europa collective is launching a European campaign that will focus on the struggles that small-scale livestock farmers face with respect to global warming. From April 15 to 22, 2012, several rallies will be organized throughout Europe – in France, Belgium, Italy, and the Czech Republic. The French rally will coincide with the International Day of the Peasant’s Struggle, on April 17, at the Place des Terreaux in Lyon, starting at 6 p.m.

Don’t confuse [small] producers with [big] polluters
According to the FAO’s World Livestock 2011 report, 120 million people depend on their livestock in order to ensure their food security. Unlike intensive farming, the hundreds of millions of small producers throughout the world, who are actually helping to combat global warming, are the ones who are suffering the most from climate change.

Greenhouse-gas emissions are the main cause of climate change.
Livestock farming, as a whole, accounts for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions. However, the contribution of small-scale livestock farming must not be confused with that of intensive livestock farming, which consumes large quantities of fossil fuels.
As a European network serving a global cause, AVSF belongs to the VSF Europa collective, which assists small-scale livestock farmers in their efforts to curb climate change and also works to reduce poverty and malnutrition. On April 17, VSF Europa is kicking off an international campaign that will last through 2013.
Follow the campaign at www.smallscalefarming.org

Press contact: Katia Roesch // 06 44 09 12 49

AVSF warns of the seriousness of the food crisis in Mali

2012-04-04

The current political situation in Mali has led to an elevated risk of food shortage and a rural exodus of more than 200,000 people. AVSF, which has been assisting the most vulnerable families in Mali’s rural zones since 1984, has suspended all activities in country’s northern region for the time being. The association hopes to be able to get back to work quickly once the situation improves. AVSF has decided to continue its activities in the south of the country for now.

A food crisis and a massive rural exodus
As a result of the current situation in Mali, the food crisis, which has been spreading accross country for the past several months now, is becoming more and more serious and widespread. ”The recent blockade of the boarders by the Economic Community of West African States has made food delivery more difficult, causing food prices to soar. The local populations – who are already the most vulnerable – have been hit the hardest by this phenomenon,” explained Jean-Jacques Boutrou, Director General of AVSF.
In addition to the food crisis, there has also been an exodus of 200,000 people who are fleeing the armed fighting in the region. That number could rise in the coming days, depending on how the conflict plays out.

AVSF stands with the Malian people
AVSF still stands by the Malian people and is doing everything it can to ensure the safety of its staff. Foreign staff members have already been evacuted from rural areas in the country’s northern region. The head of AVSF’s activities in Mali is with the team to coordinate with his teammates how to best help the local population.
AVSF is in regular contact with its head manager in Mali and is following his security plan. As of now, he has not decided to evacuate the team; however, AVSF has not entirely excluded the possibility of an evacuation.

Press contact: Christophe Lebel // 01 43 94 73 48

Water, a resource that is vital to ensuring the food security of smallholders in the South

2012-03-12

Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières will be participating in the World Water Forum, which will be held in Marseille from March 12 to March 17, 2012. The NGO, which has been active in countries in the South for the past 35 years, will defend the right of smallholders to have access to water, a resource that is essential to ensuring their food security.

Finding alternative solutions to help the most vulnerable segments of the population
The 6th World Water Forum will welcome 25,000 participants from 180 different countries and will provide an opportunity for them to share their experiences and come up with solutions to problems concerning water access and water management. The civil society is organizing the Alternative World Water Forum, which will also take place in Marseille, from March 14 to 17, in order to propose other practical alternatives.
AVSF, in partnership with several other associations within Coordination SUD, is asking countries, organizations, and international funders to put aside solutions that are overly simplified. ”Water is an extremely important resource for smallholders in the South,” says Frédéric Apollin, Program Director of AVSF. ”Without water, people can't farm.” Support programs need to be developed that are specifically adapted to each of the different contexts that exist in the South.
Such programs will need to focus on three priorities:

protecting the right to have access to and use water for food production in order to combat the rise in land and water grabbing, investing wisely in agricultural water for smallholders by encouraging the use of simple techniques, promoting infrastructure that is specifically adapted to the local conditions for water management, and building the capacities of water-user associations, facilitating the concerted and democratic management of water by promoting forums to discuss how to fairly distribute water among users, sectors, cities, and rural areas, and by ensuring that smallholders have a greater say in such forums.

An innovative activity in Ecuador that has produced results
There is an unfortunate paradox at work in Ecuador: the country has abundant water resources, and yet a majority of the population does not have access to water to use for food production. Without this precious resource, the most vulnerable segments of the population cannot cultivate their land and cannot prouce enough food to feed themselves properly. For the past 25 years, AVSF has been fighting alongside smallholders for their right to have access to water.
Hugo Vinueza, Secretary General of the Interjuntas union of water users in the Chimborazo region of Ecuador, an organization that represents more than 30,000 families, will take part in two forums in order to share his thoughts about this long collaborative relationship with AVSF and the positive results that it has produced.

Press contact attending the forums in Marseille from March 13 to 17:
Frédéric Apollin, AVSF Program Director: 06 72 11 31 48 – f.apollin@avsf.org
Hugo Vinueza will be available for interviews at the event (there will be a translator)

Press contact

Christophe LEBEL +33 (0)1 43 94 73 48

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