#FAFO12 – Strengthening Farmer Organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa in a systematic and sustainably way can make the difference

Farmer organizations (FOs) in Africa play a key role to promote new opportunities to maximize their gains in lucrative agricultural value chains. However, these prospects depend on their ability to identify emerging opportunities and to meet the greater competitive requirements.

Mr Namanga Ngongi, President of AGRA, has let the discussion on how to develop opportunities to work with and to strengthen Farmers’ Organisations in order to provide farmers with better access to production inputs and better opportunities to sell their produce. The representatives of regional networks of farmers organisations, Mr Fadel Ndiame (FOSCA), Mr I. Sunga (SACAU), and Mr John Mutunga (KENFAP Kenya) have presented their strategies to support these organisations.

The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) works to achieve a food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers. AGRA aims to ensure that smallholders have what they need to succeed: good seeds and healthy soils; access to markets, information, innovative financing, storage and transport; and policies that provide them with comprehensive support.

The Farmer Organization Support Centre in Africa (FOSCA), recently established by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Rockefeller Foundation, seeks to develop the managerial, organizational and technical capacity of FOs by linking them with service providers that focus on demand-driven and income-enhancing services.

The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) strategic pillars are advocacy on regional, continental and global matters impacting agriculture, capacity strengthening of farmers’ organisations, and provision of agriculture-related information to members and stakeholders. A systematic and structured approach to work with partners such as Governments as well as the private sector helps farmers to optimize their production capital and marketing and can substantially improve their incomes. Access to market information is essential.

The Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers (KENFAP) is the umbrella farmers’ federation representing interests of 1.8 million farm families and the legitimate farmers’ voice in Kenya. In partnership with AGRA, the federation provides business development training as well as data on yields of crops over years in a number of regions in order to help farmers to choose the right value chains to improve their income.

AGRA is also linking up to other regional networks of farmers’ organisation such as ROPPA and PROPAC. International partners such as WFP can provide skills and knowledge on logistics to bring the farmers’ produce to lucrative markets. The WFP Purchase the Progress (P4P) initiative, for example, buys stable food from also from developing countries. In 2010, WFP bought US$1.25 billion worth of food – more than 80 percent of this in developing countries.

Farmers are private sector players and able to increase their profit through services provided by FO. These services must be provided in a strategic and systematic way to ensure stability for the members as well as good quality of outputs and an increased bargaining power on markets for the members.