FAO-AgriCord partnership supporting forest producer organisations: first results
The Phase I of the FAO-hosted Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) came to an end in 2017. FAO and AgriCord had signed a partnership agreement in 2014, which pledged a total of 1 million euro to be implemented in its Pillar 1. This direct support to forest and farm producer organisations (FFPOs) in form of Small Grants aimed at addressing smallholder, women, community and indigenous peoples’ producer organisations with specific needs to strengthen their business/livelihoods and organizational capacities.
The focus of the activities implemented by the FAO-AgriCord partnership was on encouraging direct funding mechanisms which FFPOs could easily benefit from (Small Grants); promoting linkages and promoting exchange of experiences between professional farmers across the world; supporting business initiatives and entrepreneurship at local level; developing a joint funding strategy and generating knowledge on the results achieved.
In addition, efforts were made to link to work by agri-agency members of AgriCord particularly in countries with an overlap in activities. FFF signed a separate partnership agreement with We Effect (Sweden), and considerable coordinating activities were undertaken with FFD (Finland), such as coordination of support to smallholder FFPOs in Zambia, co-organization of the regional Conference in Tanzania, and collaboration in the one of Myanmar in 2017 and a joint publication of “Smallholder forest producer organization in a changing climate” which was launched during the meeting of the World Farmers Organization 2017 in Helsinki.
FFF implemented 106 small grants in 10 countries for a total budget of USD 1.5 million. DGIS-programme financed some 70% (76) of these small grants. They were implemented in eight countries: Bolivia (3 FFPOs), Gambia (13), Guatemala (2), Kenya (17), Myanmar (18), Nepal (9), Vietnam (6) and Zambia (5). The activities varied from improving FFPOs internal governance to specific technical trainings or exchange visits to improve business model. Local businesses and cooperatives have expanded or started up through the FFF small grant mechanism. Smallholder producers have been supported with trainings on market access and improved production, and exchange visits between communities and countries.
The DGIS-programme financed FFPO projects involved 24290 forest and farm producers, of which 7915 women. The projects focused on business development of timber and non-timber products, on promotion of agro-forestry practices, and on organizational building up and legal establishment of forest and farm producer organisations. Several of the projects were carried out by community forestry groups. Timber business, tree nurseries and seed production were common in forestry sector. The business development for non-timber products included amriso, bamboo, apiculture, nippa palm, stinging nettle, sandal wood, spices, fruit etc. Female smallholder -focused projects enhanced production and business on fish, incence, goats, dairy, vegetables, amriso, apiculture, spices and vegetables.
In addition to Small Grants -collaboration, FFF and AgriCord produced a series of very important publications. Two issues of “Strength in Numbers” (the first in both English and Chinese) were published which highlighted the benefits for farmers from becoming organized, while a second focused on FFPOs as the Operating Systems for the Sustainable Development Goals. The first Strength in Numbers publication was launched at a major international Conference in Guilin China in November 2013 with special support from the German-funded Carlowitz project, while the publication on the SDGs was presented at the European Development Days in June 2016.
As a member of FFF Steering Committee, AgriCord has participated closely in the preparation of the Phase II of the Forest and Farm Facility (2018/9-2022). The FAO-AgriCord partnership was renewed in February 2018 with focus on collaboration with Forest and Farm Facility, with World AgriCulture Watch and on climate change related issues.
 FAO-produced video on Nepali women producer group supported by Small Grants https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hp0qbuWFVbz1LEyA4c712lzKIzRuTSEQ/view