P3.2. Enpowering Smallholder Farmers in Markets


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Gid Ton

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  • ESFIM developed in response to a demand by IFAP, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. ESFIM was meant to give research support to IFAP on issues related with markets and especially on policies and institutions that define the space of smallholders in market. Not on production issues, Not on climate change. But specifically on the issues of institutions in markets that time-after-time came up as the principal issues for smallholder farmers organisations. Therefore, ESFIM was not only to support staff in the headquarters but by especially to work direclty with their members in articulating their demands and proposals from a bottom-up perspective. IFAP was dissolved in 2010, tragically by a bankruptcy. Meanwhile, AGRINATURA is in charge of the administration of the programme. However the intention is to make the programme ‘farmer-led’ also at that programmatic, global level in the future. A new platform on the global level is necessary but still needs time to develop organically. The ten national farmer organisations where we started to work with continued to do so in a second phase from 2010-2012 with financing of IFAD and the Dutch government. Especially in Africa the structure of regional farmer organisations is replacing the earlier role of IFAP for these ESFIM partners. In Latin America and Asia however this is not yet the case.
  • The ten farmer organisation are located in three continents: In Latin America (4): the coffee union JNC in Peru, the cooridnatorr of economic farmer organisations CIOEC in Bolivia, the federation of agricultural cooperatives CAF in Uruguay and the Costa Rican coordination of women groups, CMC. In Africa (5): the farmer federation of Benin FUPRO; the smallholders’ federation NASFAM in Malawi, UNFFE in Uganda and KENFAP in Kenya; and CPM, the coalition of farmer movements in Madagascar. In Asia, ESFIM works with the Free Farmers Federation in the Philippines.
  • We have a major objective in supporting the voice of national farmers’ organisations in policy making on smallholder market access. And, from the ‘road map’ perspective, we also have an objective to bridge the gap between two cultures that have difficulties in relating with each other: the research community and the farmers’ organisations.
  • What are the structuring elements of these two cultures: Research institutes tend to value two things: you get status through peer-reviewed articles; or you get status by managing big research budgets..... And the two issues tend no to be present in the life-worlds of farmer organisations: they have little money to spend and are not very much interested in research methods but only in the findings, and especially findings that can be used to influence policy makers. Thus, newspapers, not scientific articles. And worse..... Famer organisations tend to function in a extremely dynamic and demanding context that makes that their advocacy needs and therefore also their demand for research support and evidence, is rapidly changing. It makes it difficult for them to concentrate during a large period on the same issues. While that is exactly where we as researchers dream about: have sufficient time to plan thoroughly our research, to make it fit in our busy schedules. And we definitely cannot cope very well with the changes in the terms of references during the research period..... While farmer organisations need these adjustments, for instance changing they need flexibility to change dates of workshops, times for field work, or change the dates of major advocacy events, etc. Nevertheless, there are also positive points where we can build our efforts on: farmer organisations are well-aware of their lack of skills to grasp with all existing information and to digest existing research results However, even when they have money to spend on it, they tend to be short in funding for many other activities too, and therefore are very much unwilling to pay much for research or consultancies. They can hire necessary technical staff to provide services to their members for long periods instead of spending the same amount of money on several days inout of an external consultant. Thus, these inherent tendencies in both cultures lead to two things: One, everybody sees it as a problem and wants to resolve it. At least, that is what the discourse is. Second, the real experiences in doing it, in making research farmer-led, are still very very limited
  • ESFIM is one of such pilot experiences. As I already indicated. It is a small programme. Only 2.1 million for a five year period. Most of our budget is spend on ‘collaborative research’, where research priorities are defined by the national farmers’ organisition in each country. In the last two years they had each a budget of 40.000 US$ to spend, and another 40,000 was spent on AGRINATURA backstopping. The comparative research was done on issues that emerged from IFAP and especially an international conference in Tunis in 2007. We worked on four themes, to make policy briefs about the current state of thinking on Risk Insurance – Innovative Finance – Market information systems And, a fourth issue: organisational experience on collective marketing: ways that organisations use to prevent the centrifugal forces that are inherent in collective action: the group has some requirements that the members have difficulties with to meet (like quality systems; loyalty in supply, etc.) and the member has some requirements that the group has difficulties to meet e.g. prompt cash payment; or special treatment to them compared to non-members). Another output in this theme is a web-site where we collect this ‘organisational intelligence’ – www.collectivemarketing.org Referring back to our budget..... So the good news is..... what we did is cheap! The bad news is ....... we need more funders to take this further and scale it up. We are looking for funding partners  and we hope this approach to work closely with national farmer organisaitons can be mainstreamed into the GCARD processes and agenda for the coming 2 years
  • The choice to follow the priorities of the farmer organisations, with their advocacy agendas and their contextual problems related with institutional arrangements in markets, made that ESFIM worked in every country a different set of issues. In the Philippines on a process to make the electronic trade in maize more accessible for smallholders. In Malawi to explore models to generate quality seed supply, and to review the state of the many marketing information systems. In Kenya they started with an audit of the input voucher programme and followed with an analysis of the East-African experiences in warehouse receipt systems. Madagascar explored different initiatives to increase rural service provisioning. In Uganda UNFFE held a consultation rounds (‘fireplace conversations’) to hear first-hand experiences with the NAADS extension system. In Benin the focus was on sector policies in maize. In Bolivia they worked towards a law that could trigger preferential policies for collective marketing. The other three countries are present in this meeting and can explain their experiences in more detail. This diversity is however relative. You can see three groups of issues that have been prioritized: Issues related with changes in the way that markets operate, and especially innovations that can help smallholders to get better prices for their cash crops Issues that are more related with service provisioning, especially in the African countries And the area of collective marketing through cooperatives or similar organisations, in Latin America
  • We have learned some lessons that we can use to refine the approach of ESFIM to link research with advocacy: -First, you need a process of participative process of consultation. But that is not enough. You need to go beyond a ‘wish-list’ of issues and connect to the NFOs existing/past advocacy trajectories This showed the importance of systemize the advocacy process that the organisations have been involved in. Most organisations have regular change of leadership and often a high turn-over rate of professional staff. This easily leads to the discontinuing of efforts or the loss of knowledge about the political play where their advocacy and proposal are being discussed. We also experienced the value of other support initiatives, especially the ones that helped the organisational strengthening in service provisioning, because with these immediate needs served, there is more space and political will to invest in research. We also saw that some consultancies took a lot of time partly because the farmer organisations did not press them enough to deliver. Advocacy events are key to speed-up the research output. However, the same speed sometimes hindered the depth of analysis This re-emphasized the two-tracks that have to be developed: a track with short-term research support on timely issues, and another track with depper analysis on isuses that are likely to be of mid-term interest of the organisation Two other points proved important in the process: Delicate balance between funding internal staff and contracting external research support And the balance between wider consultation and centralized strategizing
  • As researchers (a team of 8 researchers) we regularly evaluated the process and saw signs of unbalance on these latter two point. In some of the countries. In Kenya for example the process was too much driven by internal staff and resulted in little new linkages with external research, while e.g. in Uruguay and Malawi the role of external researchers was perhaps too dominant than we ideally would have seen The same on the issue of central versus decentralized processes, some organisations tended to deviate from our ideal-type idea of the ESFIM –process.
  • To assess the impact of the organisational strengthening process where ESFIM is contributing to, we did a self-assessment and a round of interviews with externalstakeholders working in the agricultural policy field in all countries except Peru. We operationalized the concept ‘advocacy capacity’ in five different elements Their capacity for coherence Capacity to network Capacity to renew Capacity to commit and act Capacity to deliver This self-assessment by the board members showed that they considered that they were improving on most of these issues, but with some notable expectations, highlighted in red in the table. This analysis helped the board to reflect on actions to be taken to resolve these weaknesses, and in some cases reflected the loss of financial support from donors (FUPRO) or the adversity of the political situations towards their organisation (Bolivia).
  • So what do we see as the way forward. For the next phase of ESFIM we see three modifications related with the funding structure of the activities in each country. We plan to separate funding lines to resolve the tension between consultation processes and external research support We propose a Research Support Fund, managed by the farmer organisations that funds proposals that have a clear advocacy plan but with a flexible approach to adapt these plans to changing dynamics And we need time to have regular interactions between researchers and the farmer organisations to build trust in each other. Trust by researchers in the process of advocacy, trust in farmer organisations in the value of research and evidence to improve their advocacy strategy.
  • To do so, we need money. ESFIM is finalizing its second phase this year, and needs funds to invest in: Research Support Funds A process to facilitate good proposals Funds to exchange experiences between the countries Budget to get backstopping capacity Referring back to our budget..... 2.1 million dollars spent on ten national farmer organisations So the good news is..... what we did is cheap! The bad news is ....... we need more funders to take this further and scale it up. We are looking for funding partners  and we hope this approach to work closely with national farmer organisations can be mainstreamed into the GCARD processes and agenda for the coming 2 years
  • We offer our experiences with a smart flexible modality to channel research demands form farmer organisations to the research community We have a team of committed researchers tot provide backstopping We have gained knowledge on a wide range of policy issues that are relevant for smallholder access to markets And, most important, we have a coalition of 15 national farmer organisations and three regional networks in Africa willing to deepen and scale-up these initial experiences with the ESFIM approach.
  • P3.2. Enpowering Smallholder Farmers in Markets

    1. 1. Empowering Smallholder Farmers in Markets - farmer-driven research for advocacy - Giel Ton AGRINATURA / LEI Wageningen UR
    2. 2. • Initiated by IFAP in 2007, global farmers’ organisation that bankrupted in 2010• The programme continued with each of the respective National Farmers’ Organisations (NFOs)• Budget (2007-2012): US$€2,1k – (2007-2010) Financially supported by IFAD, AGRICORD/AGRITERRA and CTA – (2010-2012) Financially supported by IFAD and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation – (2012-2016) Pending • Strategic research support by three members of AGRINATURA (European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development): • Wageningen UR – The Netherlands – NRI/University of Greenwich - UK – CIRAD - France
    3. 3. Collaborative Research in 10 countries
    4. 4. Building a research-advocacy interface– Research support to national farmers’ organisations that strengthen their capacities to formulate feasible, evidence-based propositions to get a more focussed advocacy agenda on smallholder market access– Bridging the gap between the research community and national farmers’ organisations
    5. 5. RESEARCH COMMUNITY FARMER ORGANISATIONS• Research institutes tend to focus on • NFOs are interested in findings not so peer-reviewed academic outputs (focus much in research methods, and need = methods) and less on how findings can newspapers, not academic journals be made relevant for development • NFOs contract researchers/consultants, practice when linked to their short-term• Researchers are more interested in (advocacy) priorities mid/long-term studies • NFOs often lack capacity to access• Funding generally for pre-defined existing research results research issues: little flexibility to adapt • NFO do not prioritise own budget for• High staff-fee rates external researchers There are many good intentions to link research to farmer organisations’ needs. However, there is limited real experiences with institutional arrangements that effectively bridge the gap between these different ‘institutional cultures’.
    6. 6. ESFIM activitiesA. COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH (90% of total budget)•Research priorities defined by NFO: – Participatory workshops: address critical constraints for smallholders’ access to markets – Local research on key issues contracted by NFO – Backstopping by AGRINATURA (LEI, CIRAD, NRI)B. COMPARATIVE RESEARCH (10% of total budget)•Overarching desk studies and policy briefs: – Risk Insurance Models – Innovative Financial Models – Incentive Structures in Collective Marketing – Market Information Systems
    7. 7. Research focus in collaborative research: diversity with flexibilityPhilippines – FFF: Commodity ExchangeMalawi – NASFAM: Seed supply; Market information systemKenya – KENFAP: Input voucher programme; Warehouse Receipt SystemMadagascar – CPM: Rural service provisioningUganda – UNFFE: NAADS rural advisory systemBenin – FUPRO: Maize sector policy; Value chain developmentCosta Rica – CMC: Farmers’ markets; Food sovereignty legislationBolivia – CIOEC: Preferential policies for collective marketingPeru – JNC: Taxation of cooperatives; Government procurementUruguay – CAF: Cooperatives in national innovation policy
    8. 8. Lessons learnt• Need to go beyond a ‘wish-list’ of issues – connect to the NFOs existing/past advocacy trajectories• Relatively high staff turn-over in NFOs – need for systemizing the (long-term) advocacy process and track the related policy initiatives• Embed the research support in a wider support package – Complementary support creates synergy and ‘space for research’• Advocacy events speed-up the research output, but may hinder the depth of analysis – Need to complement short-term consultancies with mid-term complementary research programmes• Delicate balance between funding internal staff and contracting external research support – Separate funding lines may limit this ‘tension’/’temptation’• Effective advocacy needs both grassroots consultations and centralized strategizing – Personal champions are needed but not sufficient; neither is ‘workshopping’
    10. 10. Self-evaluation by the NFO board members (averaged)Improvement capacity compared to three years ago FUPRO CMC UNFFE NASFAM KENFAP FFF CIOEC CAF CPMCapacity areas Benin Costa Rica Uganda Malawi Kenya Philippines Bolivia Uruguay MadagascarCapacity for coherenceCapacity for networkingCapacity to renew and adapt (learning)Capacity to commit and actCapacity to deliver development objectives ESFIM was one contributing factor in a configurations of many other factors
    11. 11. Way forwardNeed for a ‘smart and flexible’ institutional arrangement(governance mechanisms) that provides a balance betweenquality research and support for advocacy events:– Separate funding lines for each: for research assignments and for priority setting and advocacy within the NFO– Requirement of having an advocacy strategy in advance on each issue, but with room for adaptation according to contextual policy dynamics– Sufficient time frame to have a process of interaction that builds confidence (both in researchers and NFOs) in the synergy between research and evidence in the research community and advocacy and learning in the farmer community
    12. 12. What do we need?• Research Support Funds, available to NFOs exclusively, for contracted research that provides evidence to help inform and refine their advocacy strategies• Budget for NFOs to facilitate these research proposals, including the necessary participative processes of policy generation and targeted advocacy• Funds to exchange experiences in regional, continental and global networks of farmer organisations• Budget for backstopping and strategic research support
    13. 13. What do we offer?• A modality to channel research demands of NFOs to the research community• Committed researchers that are able to cope with the dynamics inherent to working with NFOs• Knowledge on current policies that affect smallholder access to markets• Access to networks of famer organisations that do advocacy on smallholder issues A growing coalition of (currently) 15 national farmer organisations and three regional farmer organisations interested in deepening and scaling- up the ESFIM approach
    14. 14. THANK YOUFinancial support: http://www.esfim.org giel.ton@wur.nl