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Resources and bargaining power for rural producers

Small family farms make up 85 per cent of all farms worldwide, and the people who live on them constitute the majority of the rural poor. To mitigate the challenges that come with working in isolation − and to increase profitability and productivity − these smallholders form organizations.

When smallholders and other resource-poor agricultural producers work together it becomes easier to access farming inputs such as seeds, plant material, water, fertilizers and pesticides, and to aggregate produce to reach larger markets. Farmers are then able to reduce costs and improve their bargaining power. And when farmers thrive, they're better positioned to improve their food security and move out of poverty. Other players in food systems benefit too.

Collaboration from the ground up

Organizations run by smallholder producers are not simply IFAD project beneficiaries – they’re strategic partners. Not only do they deliver services to their members and speak on their behalf, but also key actors in social and policy dialogue at the local, national and international levels.

IFAD recognises this central role of farmers’ organizations in smallholder development. To fulfil this role, they also need specific attention and support to bolster their effectiveness and sustainability. That’s why we are supporting them to build their capacity and strengthen their institutions to perform.

IFAD involves rural producers and their organizations in the design and implementation of strategies and the projects we support. We also help broker innovative public-private-producer partnerships that bring famers' organizations and private sector operators together to ensure public-private collaborations are also benefiting small producers.

Consultation and dialogue for inclusive development

The Farmers’ Forum is the overall framework of the partnership between IFAD and organizations run by smallholder farmers. The Forum facilitates a permanent process of consultation between these producer organizations, IFAD and governments, focusing on rural development and poverty reduction. At the global level, the Farmers’ Forum was established in 2005, and facilitates an ongoing, bottom-up dialogue between rural farmers' organizations from all over the world, IFAD and our Member States. It serves as an operational tool to orientate our operations and to foster partnerships between IFAD and farmers’ organizations.

Farmers' organizations collaborate with IFAD through the design and implementation of IFAD country strategies and investment projects. IFAD also channels funds to directly support their initiatives. Over the last decade, direct support has been organized at regional level through large grant programmes co-financed and in partnership with like-minded donors: Support to Farmers' Organizations in Africa Programme and the Medium-term Cooperation Programme with farmers’ organizations in Asia and the Pacific. Other operational partnerships support the engagement of farmers’ organizations in policy platforms. Examples include the REAF Mercosur programme in Latin America and support to the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation to draft and generate approval for the East African Community Cooperative Societies Bill to improve regional legislation on cooperatives. These partnerships in turn enhance the effectiveness of IFAD-funded programmes. Tellingly, the partnership between IFAD and farmers’ organizations today is part of the modus operandi of our work.

Spotlight

The Real Groundbreakers: Claudine from Rwanda

Through the power of a women’s farming co-operative in Rwanda, Claudine is using new techniques and seeds for better cassava harvests.

Projects

Democratic Republic of the Congo

North Kivu Agriculture Sector Support Project (PASA-NK)
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Madagascar

Support to Farmers’ Professional Organizations and Agricultural Services Project
Read More

Uganda

The Project for Restoration of Livelihoods in the Northern Region
Read More

Related news

Head of UN rural development agency in India to boost efforts to eradicate poverty

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Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, will meet with government leaders in India this week to strengthen joint efforts to boost farmers’ incomes and build sustainable food systems, and review project activities that have already empowered more than one million rural women.

IFAD and partners invest US$ 30 million in Samoa to make small-scale farming and fishing more profitable and climate-proof

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Charlotte Salford, Associate Vice-President of External Relations and Governance at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is in the Philippines this week to visit an IFAD-supported project that is assisting more than 300,000 smallholder farmers, rural youth, indigenous peoples and women to become highly productive and competitive entrepreneurs in agriculture.

Related publications

Farmers’ Organizations in Africa

June 2018
The Support to Farmers’ Organizations in Africa Programme (SFOAP): Main phase (2013 - 2018) is a continental programme which strengthens the institutional capacities, policy engagement and engagement of value chains of African farmers’ organizations (FOs). The programme supports the 5 regional networks of African FOs (EAFF, PROPAC, ROPPA, SACAU and UMNAGRI), their members at national level, and the pan-African FO (PAFO).

How to do Strengthening community-based commodity organizations

October 2016
​With populations growing, fast emerging middle classes are demanding quality produce, luxury goods (tobacco, alcohol) and animal proteins, and there is pressure on domestic agricultural production to meet these needs. 

Module 3: Support to farmers’ organizations business models

December 2016
A business model is a means by which a farmers’ organization (FO) structures its resources, services and collaboration with members, stakeholders (traders, suppliers, public and private sector), clients and partners to create and capture value.