FOOD, FARMING and nature must be restored to the centre of the world stage in the fight against climate change.

That is the message from farmers and activists from around the globe, who are pushing for agriculture to be at the top of the agenda at the COP26 climate conference this November in Glasgow.

And it will be the message echoed as thousands of delegates from 75 countries virtually gather for the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC Global) this Thursday, January 7, to discuss how farming can offer a solution to the climate crisis.

Farmers around the world who practice climate-friendly methods, including regenerative and organic farming, will share their success stories over the course of the seven-day global conference.

Speakers will zone in on the benefits of agroecology and will call for policy leaders to set targets for a transition to what they believe is a more climate-friendly farming system.

“Agriculture in its present form is both a cause and a victim of all that is wrong with the world – from social injustice and political unrest to mass extinction and climate change," said ORFC co-founder, Colin Tudge. "It is treated as a business, like any other, and required above all to compete for profit in the global market.

“What we need is real farming – based on the principles of agroecology and food sovereignty. ORFC Global will bring together farmers, food producers, activists, policy makers, academics and many others from around the world who are already showing how things could, and must, be very different," he said.

“The ORFC is part of what is becoming a vital global movement – to restore agriculture to the centre of the world stage and to ensure that it operates in the best interests of all humanity and of the natural world.”

Small-scale organic farmer and coordinator of the global farmers’ movement La Via Campesina, Elizabeth Mpofu, will be one of 500 speakers at ORFC Global. She said: “Small-scale agroecological farmers around the world, the majority of them women, are producing food and resources for their communities while reducing CO2 emissions from agriculture. It’s as simple as that. Agroecology is the way forward. It’s a climate-friendly farming system.” Ms Mpofu is also co-founder of the African Women Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems.

UK-based smallholder and coordinator of The Landworkers’ Alliance – which represents farmers, growers, foresters and land-based workers in the UK – Jyoti Fernandes, added: “We are in a climate and ecological emergency, but we already have the solutions. Agroecology reduces carbon emissions, sequesters carbon and increases biodiversity. On top of this, small-scale farms using local supply chains reduce transport, waste, packaging and refrigeration.

“By growing food locally, we are cutting out the need for imports of crops that may have been grown on land cleared of forests," she continued. "Leaders need to wake up to the facts quickly and set targets for a transition to agroecology.”