Supporting Smallholder Farmers – Contact your Member of Parliament!

Harvest of Letters 2014One of the ways Canadian Foodgrains Bank works to end global hunger is by influencing public policies. We engage Canadian citizens in this work by selecting policy changes that can be accomplished through support from the public and asking concerned citizens to send personal, handwritten letters to their Members of Parliament. 

This year, in conjunction with our Good Soil campaign, we are asking people to write about Canada’s support for smallholder farmers around the world.

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version Harvest of Letters guide and sample letter. (En français).

Click here to order copies of the Harvest of Letters resource.

Support for agriculture in developing countries is one of the best ways to alleviate hunger. In the developing world at least 70 percent of people who regularly go to bed hungry live in rural areas. Many of these people are smallholder farmers, a majority of whom are women. Supporting smallholder farmers enables them to improve their family’s health, nutrition and household income, reducing the need for measures such as food aid.

Canada’s support for smallholder agriculture in developing countries

Since 2009, Canada has taken a leadership role in global food security, launching a Food Security Strategy for developing countries that prioritizes sustainable agricultural development, nutrition and food assistance.

Canada’s commitment to nutrition and food assistance has remained strong, but support for agriculture is falling.

ODA (Official Development Assistance) is used to measure aid and is an indicator of international aid flow.

Canada’s increased investment in sustainable agriculture is important for two reasons: Canada’s direct funding can improve the success of smallholder farms; and Canada can influence other countries to also increase their investment in agriculture, bringing the world closer to ending hunger.

For more information on this issue, check out the Good Soil campaign.

What can you do?

Use your voice. Below are some effective ways of influencing this decision to benefit people around the world who face hunger and food insecurity.

1. Write to your Member of Parliament

Send a personal letter to your Member of Parliament encouraging the Canadian government to invest in smallholder agriculture in developing countries.  Financial support for improved farming practices and other appropriate innovations can make a difference in the lives of farmers, their families, and their communities.

Alternatively, write an email to your Member of Parliament. A well-written, personal email can also be effective in reaching your MP. Use the subject line “Supporting farmer to end hunger”, and be sure to copy the Prime Minister and the Minister of Development.

Remember to include your postal address in your letter or email.

After you send your letter or email, please tell us about it! Click here to send us a quick message. Or fill out a short reporting form here.

See the Harvest of Letters resource to help get you started!

2. Hold a Letter Writing Event

Writing letters as a group sends a powerful message to Canada’s leaders, and it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Here’s what a simple event can look like:

  • Invite your friends, neighbours, or people from your church or small group to get together for an hour or two. Order copies of the Harvest of Letters guide and sample letter for everyone;
  • Gather the supplies–pens, paper, envelopes, sample letters, and have a computer ready for people to look up their MPs by postal code;
  • Give a short overview of the issue, and allow time for discussion. This could be done by you with the help of more resources,
  • Invite a speaker: a Regional Coordinator in your area, or Foodgrains Bank engagement staff;
  • Write the letters – people will need at least 20-25 minutes to write their letters;
  • Address and gather the letters–then say a blessing over them;
  • Enjoy each other’s company and perhaps some refreshments;
  • Mail the letters and fill out the reporting form.

3. Meet with your Member of Parliament

Meeting with your Member of Parliament likely has the biggest impact. Here’s what to do:

  • Read up on the issue;
  • Talk to friends or other community members who would be supportive–a group of two or three is great for an MP visit;
  • Contact us for help! We are more than willing to spend time with you by phone, Skype, or email to help get you prepared; contact us at or 1-800-665-0377 to get started;
  • Let us know about the meeting, so we can share it with the Food Justice Network.
  • Click here for a more detailed guide.
  • For talking points on this issue, please email us at

Once you’ve completed your letter, email or meeting, let us know here.