The Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Connecting Smallholders to Markets of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) convened from 8-9 June 2016, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), in Rome, Italy. Building on the outcomes of the 2015 High-Level Forum on Connecting Smallholders to Markets, and the informal OEWG consultations held on 28 April 2016 that discussed key messages from the High-Level Forum, the meeting finalized a set of recommendations for adoption at the 43rd Plenary Session of the CFS (CFS 43) in October 2016.

Around 100 OEWG members, drawn from governments, UN agencies, civil society and private sector organizations, participated in the negotiations.

CFS OEWGs are informal groups open to all CFS members, participants and observers. They review, discuss and make proposals related to the intersessional work of CFS but have no decision-making mandate. The outcomes of their work are conveyed to CFS plenary, which is the decision-making body.

Convened as a one-off open-ended working group (OEWG), this meeting finalized the outcomes of the High-Level Forum (HLF) on Connecting Smallholders to Markets in June 2015, in order to present recommendations to the 43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 43) for endorsement. The meeting follows a request by CFS 42 that the HLF outcomes, including the good practices and lessons presented in the background document and during the discussion, be further analyzed with a view to preparing a set of draft policy recommendations and practices. The recommendations aim at overcoming barriers and maximizing opportunities for smallholders, as well as set out a process to finalize and agree on the final version of the document to be presented to the CFS 43 in October 2016.

The policy recommendations covered a wide range of issues confronting smallholder farmers, as well as fishers and pastoralists. These included: local, national and regional markets and food systems; gender; youth; international markets; nutrition; institutional procurement; smallholders in a changing context; information; participation and demand; infrastructure and financing; broader landscape; production; capacity development and follow up.

The guidelines encourage all stakeholders to advocate, including within FAO, IFAD and WFP, and build awareness through dissemination and facilitate learning, action and experience sharing through the use of the recommendations. Stakeholders are invited to facilitate follow-up by mapping, assessing and promoting exchange of experience in some key areas, such as methodologies for data collection on local national regional and international markets and food systems, food safety and public procurement programmes.

The Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) proposed new language on follow-up concerning the process for involving the Rome-based Agencies; CFS procedures for reviewing progress; and dissemination of the recommendations. The Secretariat clarified CFS’ practice that the OEWG on the Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPoW) would consider timing of follow-up. Participants agreed on text as amended during discussions, with the understanding that the decision box to be addressed by CFS 43 will include a request to the MYPoW OEWG to consider the issue of follow-up.

Download the new Recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets.

See more detail on the negotiations process.

Photo: Roberto Faidutti/FAO.


• Access to natural resources
• Agriculture
• Environment (Sustainable)
• ESC rights
• Farmers/Peasants
• Food (rights, sovereignty, crisis)
• Human rights
• International
• Land rights
• Microfinance / microcredits
• Norms and standards
• Pastoralists
• Rural planning
• Security of tenure
• Women
• Youth