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January 2011                                        Briefing Paper                                        Strengthening Bu...
What Makes AAB Unique1. Replicates Positive Deviant Field Staff Ap-proaches   As opposed to designing training materialsfr...
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Briefing Paper - Strengthening FBOs


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Farmer-based organisations (FBOs) have long been recognized as a means for farmers to gain access to the support they need to improve their livelihood and food security. Ghana’s agriculture sector policy recognizes that FBO development is a practical strategy to increase incomes of smallholder farmers. This paper explores the challenges and opportunities of FBO development.

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Briefing Paper - Strengthening FBOs

  1. 1. January 2011 Briefing Paper Strengthening Business-oriented Farmer-based Organizations Farmer-based organisations (FBOs) have long been recognized as a means for farmers to gain access to the support they need to improve their livelihood and food security. Ghana’s agriculture sector policy recognizes that FBO development is a practical strategy to increase incomes of smallholder farmers. This paper explores the challenges and opportunities of FBO development. Key Insights: The Challenge What Is Working In FBO Development Despite good intentions and promising Successful FBOs have one common trait—• Ad-hoc, rushed FBO formation interventions, FBO development results have cohesion. Successful FBOs have a common under pressure to meet intervention targets leads to poor been mixed. purpose that is business-oriented, rather than FBO results Number Percentage of to receive external assistance. This purpose is• Delivering assistance to FBOs of FBOs FBOs Formed the foundation from which FBO strengthen- reduces sustainability and leads to poor intervention results Formed 24 514 100 % ing can proceed to facilitate regular group• FBOs with a common, business- problem-solving, and to design a profitable Functional 11 162 46 % oriented purpose benefit workplan that suits the FBO’s needs. more from FBO development Accessing Financial and/or 5 309 22 % interventions Market Information Services The MoFA Agriculture As A Business Accessing Credit 2 283 9% Field Tool Successfully Repaying Loans1 1 009 4% EWB has been working in northern Ghana Main Recommendations: with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Source: Department of Agriculture Extension Services, Ministry of• FBO strengthening should be long- Food and Agriculture, Ghana (MoFA 2009 Annual Progress Report). (MoFA) since 2007 to address the two ma- term, and be a regular activity to jor causes outlined above and improve FBO sensitize and orient FBOs for the Only half the FBOs formed meet on a regu- development results. The focus has been market lar basis and have an active bank account as to develop and pilot an FBO strengthening• FBO strengthening should take a savings and collateral mechanism. Of these a facilitative approach to enable program using the Agriculture As A Business FBOs to develop their own plans functional FBOs, only a quarter access credit, (AAB) field tool. AAB is a series of ten mod- and be held accountable to those which is typically provided by donor inter- plans by field staff ules used by MoFA field staff when strength- ventions. And for those FBOs that do access ening FBOs.• Field staff who strengthen FBOs need practical field tools to learn credit, repayment rates can be as low as 25%2. and practice in the field with There are two major causes for these Desired Impact of the MoFA AAB Field Tool supportive supervision mixed results: Before: Ineffective Sensitization of FBO Members 1 After: Regular Strengthening of FBOs 1. Ineffective Sensitization of FBO Members Best Practice: AAB adopters have a vision to establish a AAB Field Tool In Brief: FBOs are formed ad-hoc in a rush. Field core number of functional FBOs. They start with one FBO• Aims to standardize and simplify staff are often under pressure to form and and make its success visible to inspire other farmers to high quality FBO strengthening strengthen FBOs to meet intervention targets follow—a natural scale-up mechanism. Then they con-• Set of laminated cards with for the cropping season. FBO members lack a tinue short follow-ups with this FBO, while starting with a stories, proverbs, and photos as facilitation aids, and step-by-step unifying purpose, and often leave the FBO. second, and so on. meeting guides for field staff to Before: Ineffective Orientation of FBOs use during FBO meetings 2. Ineffective Orientation of FBOs 2• Topics are: Group Vision, After: FBOs are Independent and Market-oriented Meetings, Finances, Group FBOs are oriented towards receiving prom- Project, Group Marketing, Market ised inputs like loans, high-yielding seed, and Best Practice: AAB adopters allow FBOs to design and Planning, Business Planning, fertilizer. Farmers perceive these promised implement their own plans to suit the FBO’s needs, instead Record-Keeping, Value Addition, of following an externally designed plan. They avoid deliv- Loan Preparation, Business inputs as handouts—an expectation cre- Evaluation ering assistance, and rather allow farmers to access what ated by numerous interventions delivering• Each of the 10 modules is a 2-hour they need on their own (e.g. meeting with banks, buying assistance. Once the intervener leaves, FBOs FBO meeting to be facilitated with seeds in town) while providing problem-solving support on the FBO every 1-2 weeks do not know how to access the inputs, and a demand-driven basis. members decide to leave the FBO.
  2. 2. What Makes AAB Unique1. Replicates Positive Deviant Field Staff Ap-proaches As opposed to designing training materialsfrom an office disconnected with the field, 601-366 Adelaide St. W., Toronto, ON M5V 1R9, CanadaEWB worked side-by-side with innovative Telephone: 1.416.481.3696 Fax: 416.352.5360 e-mail: website: www.ewb.cafield staff to identify and capture best field Charitable Registration Number: 89980-1815-RR0001practices. The AAB tool is a compilation ofbest practices to ensure it spreads practicesthat already work well with FBOs. It was com-piled using an iterative approach of frequenttesting and re-designing in the field with fieldstaff. Wupolo Women’s Group Wupolo Women’s Group used to meet infre-2. Focuses on Action-Learning quently and could not find a good market for their “AAB is practical and tangible. When Each AAB module has the FBO follow an ac- tomato harvest. MoFA field staff facilitated meet- farmers apply what they have learned, ings over an 8-month period using the Agriculture they will see results.”tion learning cycle. The FBO meeting begins As A Business field tool. Now Wupolo Women’swith reflection on a story, proverb or photo Group are meeting regularly to contribute dues, Tahiru Yahaya Mohammed, Ministry ofrelated to the module. keep records, and have accessed a loan from Food and Aagriculture field staffThe field staff then guides Naara Rural Bank after deciding to produce andthe FBO to the analysis, sell rice to SMA (a nearby rice processor).which is topic-specific.For example, in the Group Challenges & LearningMeetings module, the FBO EWB has observed that results are limitedanalyzes whether they are by the following two factors:having good group meetings. The field staffthen guides the FBO to make a plan, based 1. Competing interventions that reinforce both the ineffective sensitization of FBO members, Regional agriculture actors areon the FBO’s analysis. The plan is action-ori- and the ineffective orientation of FBOs. adopting the AAB field toolented to ensure the FBO has actions that they 2009: GTZ MOAP Northern Regioncan do to improve their FBO. The field staff FBO development takes time, and results do not come immediately. Farming is al- contracts EWB to train Districtthen monitors the FBO’s actions. The action- ready a risk. Success and profit depends on Co-operative Officers to use the AABlearning cycle begins again. many external factors like weather patterns, field tool when strengthening FBOs.3. Practical On-the-job Training of Field Staff disease and pest outbreaks. Consistency in 2010: ACDEP, an NGO in northern Workshops are used sparingly to introduce intervention approach is necessary during Ghana, uses the MoFA AAB field tool astopics and include demonstrations to inspire the FBO development process over several a model in the DFID-funded Agricultureconfidence in field staff to adopt the AAB crop seasons for farmer behaviour change to Financial Education project.tool. FBO strengthening takes practice to sustainably occur.learn facilitation, and the AAB tool is an easy, 2. Inadequate follow-up by field staff, supervi-safe way for field staff to practice, learn, and sors, and visionary leaders.improve in the field with supervisors provid- More frequent and targeted follow-up bying feedback. field staff is required for strong FBOs to moveResults forward with greater market access and im- EWB has measured a 60.4% improvement proved profits. It is easy for field staff to stopin FBO strength by averaging results from supporting the FBO after completing the AAB Acknowledgements34 selected FBOs3 among the 5 pilot districts4 modules. However, some FBOs require short one-time interventions to be linked into the Sarah Grant for her input, and countlesswhich began adopting the AAB tool in 2008- EWB staff for their input and feedback.09. EWB measures FBO strength using a formal market due to misunderstandings and Innovative MoFA staff in district andmatrix to describe four stages along various intimidation. Supervisors and visionary lead- regional offices in Northern and Upper ers must continually motivate and provide East Region, Ghana.dimensions of FBO development. Results aresummarized in the following graph. positive and constructive feedback to field staff.1 Conservative estimate using Ghana’s Agriculture Development Bank’s recovery rate of 44.2% for all Wayne Mirandaagriculture sector credit. Farmers register lower recovery rates.2 Statistics, Research and Information Directorate, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana.3 FBOs were selected by MoFA field staff. waynemiranda@ewb.ca4 Bawku West (UER), Bongo (UER), Tamale (NR), Bole (NR), Sawla-Tuna-Kalba (NR) districts in Ghana.