Visiting team of representatives of NFOs at the piggery cooperative in Shiselweni, Swaziland
Five national farmers’ organisations (NFOs) namely Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT); Coalition Paysanne de Madagascar (CPM), Lesotho National Farmers’ Union (LENAFU), Seychelles Farmers’ Association (SEYFA) and Swaziland National Agricultural Union (SNAU) met with the IFAD supervision mission from 21st to 25th October 2017 in Swaziland. The meeting, which was held at Lugogo Sun in Ezulwini, provided an opportunity for the NFOs to share achievements made under Support to Farmers’ Organizations in Africa Programme (SFOAP) over the period of one year. In addition, NFOs shared cases and experiences arising from implementation of the project. A visit to one of the cooperatives supported by the project was also made. From the reports received from NFOs, it was clear that the project is making positive contributions to the development of the agriculture sector in the countries where it is implemented.
In Swaziland, among others, the project has enabled SNAU to facilitate the establishment and registration of a multi-purpose cooperative that will benefit farmers regarding a number of aspects, including provision of farm inputs at a relatively low price. The cooperative will be able to aggregate inputs demand from farmers and negotiate for better prices with suppliers. The savings that will be made per unit cost through bulk purchasing will trickle down to individual farmers. The arrangement will also reduce transportation cost of the inputs to various parts of the country. This will also contribute towards reduction of production costs as transportation is one of contributors to high input cost.
In Lesotho, LENAFU is in the process of reviewing their constitution which will better guide the operations of the union, and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lesotho Post Bank for the provision of financial products to farmers. Currently, the bank has no products offered to farmers and it is expected that through the MoU it will be able to come up with special products that will benefit farmers. The Agriculture Council of Tanzania is in the process of organising a business-to-business conference for farmers and stakeholders in the livestock industry. The intention is to enable the stakeholders to meet with farmers and share the type of services they offer and provide farmers with an opportunity to engage with captains in the livestock industry. It is expected that farmers will get business deals for their products as well as information regarding livestock in the country. Government representatives will also be invited for them to understand some of the policy and technical bottlenecks farmers and other players in the livestock industry are facing.
CPM on the other hand reported that they embarked on a process of restructuring their organisation to effectively respond to the needs of farmers. They engaged a consultant who conducted an organisational audit that recommended that the organisation be restructured from the local level by forming commoditybased structures at the base. These local structures will form communal farmers’ organisations, which will subsequently form regional organisations, who in turn will affiliate to CPM at national level. The thinking behind this restructuring is to reinforce the localised institutions to work more effectively. On their part, the IFAD supervision team commended the NFOs for the achievements made and urged them to increase their effort in the implementation of activities so that they complete the project in time.