Farmers’ organisations, from different parts of the world, are convinced that they have a responsibility towards their peers in (other) developing countries. This is what Farmers Fighting Poverty is about: farmer-to-farmer support between organisations.
2016 Echanges technique URCPA Bénin producteurs d’anacarde – Unicoque France – Afdi
Through Farmers Fighting Poverty, a growing number of unions, cooperatives, federations, rural people’s organisations and farmer-controlled agri-businesses are enabled to support similar groups across the world, so they can provide better and more wide-ranging services to their members. And the economic development stemming from the activities of dynamic farmers’ organisations has wider benefits too, including more democracy, a better deal for women, and more attractive perspectives for young people in rural areas.
Farmers Fighting Poverty operates as a development fund. It is an operational delivery mechanism for financial and advisory services to initiatives of farmers’ organisations, and bundles funding from different sources. It is managed by farmers’ organisations through their “agri-agencies”, acting as one organisation or “alliance”. This document presents its objectives, strategies and procedures.
One basic principle is obvious: Farmers Fighting Poverty is demand driven. The cooperating farmers’ organisations define their activities and the partnerships they consider relevant, with public and with private sector, or with other parties in agro-food chains.
They partner with one of the agri-agencies, eventually from a very early stage, to define their cooperation. Bottom-line is that the strategic interests of farmers, as perceived by farmers themselves, are not compromised. Within Farmers Fighting Poverty, the cooperation is:
1. focused: participants (actors) are membership based farmers’ organisations (only).
2. demand driven: all activities are proposed by the farmers’ organisations themselves.
3. two-pronged: funding (grants as well as mobilisation of loans and equity), and advisory services.
4. farmer-to-farmer: advisory services focus on peer-to-peer cooperation between farmers’ organisations.
5. flexible: implementation is flexible to cope with changing (political, environmental, economic) circumstances.
6. comprehensive: support addresses a broad range of deliverables, from internal organisational capacity to economic operations.
Farmers’ organisations are supported by Farmers Fighting Poverty to pursue their own strategic interests, activities and partnerships, in each or several of the four functions of a farmers’ organisation (representation, economic services, technical services and provision of public goods).
Agri-agencies support the existing self-driven organising efforts of family farmers and help them to defend their strategic interests, among others avoiding or reducing their dependency of other stakeholder groups and chain partners, by strengthening their organisations and cooperatives. Agri-agencies only work with organized farmers’, not with individuals.
Because of the complex and strategic challenges that need to be tackled by farmers’ organisations, the relationship with supportive agri-agencies is inspired by a long-term vision and is therefore generally not limited to the duration of a regular project cycle.
Avoiding financial dependency of grant money is a permanent attention point that is incorporated in this long term partnership. Grants are hereby considered as seed money, not as a structural source of income. Grants are required to finance seed projects, (inter)national advice, training and exchanges. International grants are hereby often a crucial element to overcome structural barriers in the development of farmers’ organisations and can be needed over a longer period.
A consolidated approach
An first comprehensive inventory of lessons learned from three years of Farmers Fighting Poverty, involving external consultants and prepared by field missions, was discussed in an open mid-term performance review meeting (Brussels, 2010), with representatives of donor governments, the European Commission, partner institutions (IFAD) and farmers’ organisations, members of AgriCord.
Since 2015, an annual consolidated report covers activities and results of Farmers Fighting Poverty as whole, all sources of funding included, and also discussed as performance review (Brussels, 2015) with AgriCord’s technical and financial partners. Obviously, and based upon Agro-info.Net database, activities as well as results can still be linked and properly reported to each individual source of funding.