A global project to empower small-scale forest farmers and producers has been launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The three-year project, in association with We Effect, formerly the Swedish Cooperative Centre, will work to strengthen rural organisations and institutions to facilitate the empowerment of the rural poor, especially women.
It will initially be focusing on small-scale forest and farmer producer organisations in eight developing countries, to enable its members to access land and markets. Those countries are: Bolivia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Zambia.
Over 50 million people are employed within the forestry sector, many of them banded together in community groups or producer organisations. However they, along with many other smallholder family farmers in different sectors, face a number of hurdles, including weak tenure rights to land and forests, and often lack key skills that would help them make the most of their activities.
Two key aims are to help producer organisations strengthen governance structures and build their capacity to be activists at both a grassroots level and in policy debates. The effort will also look to build members’ business and entrepreneurial skills as well as facilitate their access to financial services.
José Graziano da Silva, FAO director general, said: “Co-operatives and producer organisations are leading the way to a world free from hunger. They facilitate rural people’s access to markets and services, to resources, information and communication; they provide decent jobs and inclusive solutions to social and gender inequalities, in agriculture and forestry.
“Family farmers and their producer organisations have a central role to play in investing and revitalising rural economies. When well-organised, they can make themselves heard and contribute directly to the policy debate and to decision-making.”
We Effect’s chief executive, Anneli Rogeman, added: “As the majority of the poor live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture, and nearly 800 million people go to bed hungry every day, it’s crucial to improve the conditions of farmer families in poor countries to fight poverty and hunger.
“The agreement with FAO is a step in the right direction. Hundreds of thousands of farmers will be able to increase their income, have better contacts with decision makers and greater possibilities to influence their lives.”
The FAO said the agreement builds on an existing collaboration, which has seen the FAO’s Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) and CoOPequity programmes working with We Effect to strengthen the capacities of member-based producer organisations such as the Forestry Smallholder Producers Association of Kenya.
In this article
- Anneli Rogeman
- Food and Agriculture Organisation
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- Graziano da Silva
- International development
- Swedish Cooperative Centre
- United Nations Development Group
- We Effect
- North America
- United Kingdom