IFAP: helping farmers to organize themselves
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CTA. 1987. IFAP: helping farmers to organize themselves. Spore 10. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44691
Despite the widespread rhetoric on the importance of agriculture, farmers (especially small farmers) in many developing countries are getting a raw deal. Some problems we hear all too often are: producers being excluded from project planning,...
Despite the widespread rhetoric on the importance of agriculture, farmers (especially small farmers) in many developing countries are getting a raw deal. Some problems we hear all too often are: producers being excluded from project planning, available technology being beyond the means of smallholders, low food prices reflecting the interests of urban consumers rather than rural producers, and research not being in line with farmers' priorities. What then, can be done to improve the situation ? Higher yielding varieties, more fertilizer, better pest control, appropriate technology ? The importance of technical farming improvements is clear. Less obvious - but no less important - is the human aspect. Farmers are not machines which automatically increase output at the turn of a switch, and far too little attention has been focussed in the past on assisting farmers to organize themselves. Indeed, the experience over the last forty years of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) clearly shows that a prerequisite to sustainable rural development is for farmers to organize themselves into representative associations, unions or co-operatives, based on local cultures and traditions. Strong and effective farmers' organizations, structured from the grassroots to the national level, are essential to bring about sustainable increases in both production and rural incomes. Clearly, such organizations have to be built on a foundation of self-help. Without any outside assistance, however, their development would take far too long and many organizations would never extricate themselves from the 'chicken and egg' situation of a lack of initial resources for providing the services in order to become self-financing. Carefully planned external assistance is certainly needed to reinforce their self-help efforts. This is why IFAP, an international NGO grouping 63 farmers' organizations and agricultural co-operatives worldwide, is working to strengthen Third World farmers' organizations. In some countries, this means improving the capacity of associations to represent and serve farmers in a practical way. In other countries. where regional or national level organizations have not yet developed, the first priority is to promote links between associations from the grassroots and assist them to provide practical services (e.g. group input purchases and marketing), in a step-by-step process of building up a structured farmer's organization. IFAP is putting this into practice in several different ways, wherever practicable with collaboration and support from development agencies. Some illustrations of 1986/87 activities undertaken or planned include: - In conjuction with the German foundation for international development (DSE) and the German farmers' union (DBV), an international farm leaders' seminar, follow-up action, and document produced in January 1986 entitled 'Improving Marketing and Farm Input Supply in Developing Countries: A plan of action for farmers' organizations'; Organizing three regional workshops during 1987 in Kenya (for anglophone Africa), Tunisia (for francophone Africa) and Nepal (Asia), in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. The workshops are being held near an IFAD-funded project, the main themes being to promote greater farmer involvement in agricultural projects and to establish and strengthen genuine farmers' organizations - Projects to build up farmers' organizations in Rwanda and Burkina Faso; - Collaboration with CTA including assisting farmers'organizations to produce their own practical bulletins for producers; - Activities of IFAP's African Regional Committee (training courses for women farm leaders; meetings in August 1987, Nairobi, Kenya, including a seminar in collaboration with ICRAF on agroforestry in African agriculture); - Advisory services on such issues as pricing policy options and agricultural insurance. For further information: contact either Jo Feingold, Secretary General or Trevor Lucey, Development Programme Officer IFAP 21 rue Chaptal 75009 Paris France