1. Could you describe some of the practical benefits of the APF partnership for your organisation in the last 2 years?
Agriterra has been an active member of APF since the start. In fact it stood at the cradle of this network. From the beginning we felt that this network is very important to ensure that producer organisations are seen as the central players to reach farmer entrepreneurship. The benefits we reaped from our membership of APF are manifold.
At country level (particularly in Kenya, Uganda, Niger and Rwanda) the producer organisations played a central role in setting the agenda of this network. Agriterra supported them in building up a network with service providers, representatives of donor agencies and government and private sector and present the position of farmer entrepreneurs more profoundly.
At institutional/strategic level Agriterra has been active in a number of thematic networks that are initiated by APF. Through these thematic discussions our knowledge of the subject increased and we were able to expand our network through relating with new faces and organisations. It allowed us also to present the position and importance of producer organisations to others. Eventually this opened doors for producer organisations in Africa to connect with thematic knowhow that is available and generated through APF.
2. Please give an example of a joint action in which your organisation was involved and in which the APF network played a visible role
In Rwanda Agriterra is the lead agency in the manioc value chain on behalf of the APF members. This enables producer organisations to get access to expertise through these APF members such as CDI/WUR and others. At local level the agribusiness clusters development gives opportunities for local farmers groups to relate to processors, financers and business men. They learn to position themselves in these agribusiness clusters in order to sell the manioc at an acceptable price.
In Eastern Africa Agriterra initiated a HIV/AIDS trajectory together with Van Hall Larenstein, the Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) and producer organisations from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. This has resulted into mainstreaming HIV/AIDs within the producer organisations and in better understanding what the role of the producer organisations can be to tackle this phenomenon. For example producer organisations understand that their role is not to supply condoms but to make sure that people living with HIV/AIDS can join in important training courses or events by organising these training courses at their premises. In this way producer organisations make sure that people living with HIV/aids can keep participating in valuable programmes organised by them.
Recently a study was conducted by Agriterra together with a local research institute and a national producer organisation in Uganda, as part of the APF programme, to identify best practice producer organisations in the field of entrepreneurship. The intention was to identify key criteria required for best performance producer organisations. The results of this study have been presented to Uganda APF members. This may help them to identify weaknesses and develop capacities to further improve the performance of producer organisations.
3. If you were in charge, what should the APF network look like in 5 years time?
The agenda of producer organisations should be central in the actions of APF network activities. Having gone back to its roots, APF the Netherlands should stimulate other European countries to set up similar networks. It could combine forces with these networks to strengthen farmer entrepreneurship through farmers’ organisations. However, APF, at home and in its alliances, should be choosy and select carefully who can join the network. It is not the quantity (of members) that counts but the focus and commitment of the members to increasingly address farmers’ organisations and respond to their development plans.
4. How will your organisation contribute to the APF network in the next 2 years
Being in charge, Agriterra would go back to the original intentions for creating the network, bringing together those activities of the participating Dutch parties that address only the needs of farmers’ organisations in the developing countries. The agenda of producer organisations would again be central in the APF network activities. In our appreciation, AFP is currently drifting away from these intentions. It is becoming more and more a network of Dutch entities with general agriculture or rural development activities. AFP has gained in this way political leverage and prestige, which is good, but it does so by-passing the federated structures of farmers in developing countries. Farmer membership is increasing surprisingly fast and these organisations need the coordinated support of the Dutch with the multi-stranded services that the AFP members can offer.
Contact: Kees Blokland
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