Learning from farmer organisations

Gian Nicola Francesconi

This booklet shows the results of the first “cluster” put together by the Experience Capitalization project implemented by CTA in different parts of the world – a group made up of representatives of some of the farmer organizations working in East Africa: the Uganda National Farmers Federation, the Kenya National Farmers Federation, the Kenya Livestock Producers Association, MVIWATA in Tanzania, and also of the East Africa Farmers Federation. Not knowing much about “experience capitalization”, they came together for a first workshop in Nairobi at the end of 2016 – and they all started their own capitalization process. CTA’s objective was that participants would not just discuss the concepts and principles behind the capitalization approach, but they would work together with their colleagues back home and complete the process within a few months. What follows are the first results of these processes.

A set of 13 stories
The case studies included in this collection provide an update on development projects aimed at farmer organizations in East Africa, and a first-hand view of their challenges and succcesses. Historically, farmer organizations have played a central role in helping governmental and non-governmental agencies deliver technical and financial support to the myriad of smallholders populating the vast and remote rural areas of East Africa. Most of the cases included in this collection (7 of them) indicate that farmer organizations are still the “preferential channels” for delivering resources and know-how to farm-households in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. In particular, five cases describe the most traditional or “physical” delivery mechanisms offered by farmer organizations, which aim at providing farmers with agronomic training courses and services, as well as seeds and seedlings, livestock, fertilizer, chemicals and machineries. Two other cases describe new or “virtual” delivery mechanisms that are increasingly available to these organizations through mobile phones. These new mechanisms are proving particularly useful for connecting farmers to market and weather information system, as well as to financial and insurance services.

The digitalization process seen in many organizations is also contributing to enhance their transparency and increase the accountability of their leaders and managers with respect to farmers’ livelihoods. The need to improve the governance structure of farmer organizations in East Africa, as elsewhere, is further emphasized in the last 6 cases presented in this collection. In particular, these cases propose and describe interventions for strengthening the capacities of leaders and managers in promoting and facilitating farmers’ participation in markets and policy-making processes. Political leadership and business management thus emerge as capacities that are urgently needed by East-African farmer organizations to complete their transformation from “passive” delivery-channels into entrepreneurial and influential organizations.

Next steps
The experience capitalization project helped participants look in detail at their own work, and draw the lessons and conclusions shown in each story. But their work has not finished yet. The capitalization process will only be complete when these stories are shared, and when the main recommendations are adopted or taken up by other organizations in east Africa, and also in other regions. This is the main challenge now.

Please download this booklet here

And find all separate stories here:

© 2018, CTA. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

CTA is a joint institution operating under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement between the ACP Group of States (Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) and the EU Member States (European Union). CTA is funded by the European Union.