Farmers working in fields

By Vatican News

Mar 20 2024

In a message to the Eighth Global Conference of the World Rural Forum, Pope Francis highlights how family farmers are crucial in making agrifood systems more inclusive, resilient and efficient, playing a leading role in human progress, although weighed down by poverty and lack of opportunities.

Pope Francis has offered words of encouragement and expressed the closeness of the Church to family farmers in a message he sent to participants at the Eighth Global Conference of the World Rural Forum taking place in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain, from Mar 19 to 21. The conference is focusing on “Family Farming: Sustainability of our Planet” and common efforts to eradicate hunger, reduce inequality and promote stewardship of our planet. The global meeting brings together prominent leaders in family farming from the five continents, along with government representatives, members of international institutions, research centers, foundations, consumer organizations, youth and women farmers.

Addressing poverty

The Pope sent his message to Martín Uriarte Zugazabeitia, president of the World Rural Forum. He praised farm families “for the supportive way they work and for the respectful and gentle way in which they cultivate the land.” They are “fundamental to making agrifood systems more inclusive, resilient and efficient,” he writes, but unfortunately, “despite the leading role they play in the progress of their peoples and their significant contribution to global food production, they continue to be affected by poverty and scarcity of opportunities.”

Respecting human, spiritual, common needs

Drawing attention to the importance of their human, spiritual and social needs, as well as needed technical assistance, the Pope writes that “the family business, in addition to being a productive entity, is the place where people belong, the place where they feel understood and valued for their dignity, and not only for what they produce or for the outcomes they achieve.” He also emphasised “the importance of strengthening the bonds that unite one another, of respecting their religious traditions, cultural heritage and agricultural practices.”

Appreciating the contributions of women and youth

The Pope also drew attention to the “the essential role” women can offer in this field: “Rural women represent a sure compass for their families, a solid fulcrum for the progress of the economy, especially in developing countries, where they are not only beneficiaries but real drivers of progress in the societies where they live.” And he highlighted the key role young people in agriculture can play: “The real revolution for the future of food begins with the formation and empowerment of the new generations,” adding that “the gift young people give us is the gift of innovative solutions to old problems and the courage not to be conditioned by myopic thinking that resists change.” – Vatican News