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 It was great to be in the room yesterday afternoon, when representatives of farmers’ organizations from Asia and the Pacific held their regional working group session with IFAD colleagues as part of the fourth global Farmers’ Forum.
During the three-hour session, participants had the opportunity to:

  •   Assess results of the Mid-Term Cooperation Programme (MTCP) with the farmers’ organizations – also known as FOs – in the region
  •  Talk about IFAD-FO partnerships at the national and regional levels
  • Exchange views on how to strengthen IFAD-FO partnerships  
  • Put on the table the challenges of the past biennium (2010 -2011)
  • Pave the way for the coming years

The results of the first phase of the MTCP were very encouraging. "Consultation with FOs in the design of new IFAD projects, and in the formulation of new Country Strategic Opportunities Programmes, is now the norm!”, said Sana F K Jatta, IFAD Task Manager for the Farmers’ Forum process in the Asia Pacific Division.

Maybe that’s because IFAD and FOs have a common objective, which is poverty reduction. As Nguyen Manh Hung, Director of International Cooperation in the Viet Nam Farmers’ Union,  said: “When you have common objectives, you can shake hands.”

However, FO representatives from other Asian countries did not all report the same success that Viet Nam and Nepal experienced. For example, Herminia de Jesus Pinto, from East Timor, said that FOs in Pacific countries were not involved in the MTCP; Herman Kumara Wijethunge from World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) advocated for the involvement of fisherfolk in programme planning; and representatives from India stressed that more Indian FOs should be part of the MTCP. It was a very open and lively discussion.

My take? Much was achieved during the first biennium of the MTCP, but more needs to be done in the coming years in terms of knowledge sharing, involvement of FOs in IFAD country programmes, and strengthening of national and regional FO networks. But to strengthen FOs’ role, these organizations have to be more proactive in areas where there are IFAD projects.

FOs should also work a bit more on gender balance. In the room where the regional working group met, there were  30 people, including myself. Only 10 were women!

Interested in knowing more? Follow the fourth global Farmers’ Forum meeting  bit.ly/ArtmQW #fafo12 #ifadgc to learn about future goals.