Commodity associations bring together a broad spectrum of interest groups related to a particular commodity in a particular country, whether for export, for the domestic market or for both. Because they draw membership from the entire chain these associations tend to have much greater strength when advocating policy or regulatory changes. One speaks of “Interprofessional” organizations when their membership consists of associations that represent the different activities, or professions, that are found in the chain.
Associations that represent the entire chain are not widespread in most regions of the world although interest in the potential role of such associations is growing rapidly. The concept is potentially valuable in that such associations can provide a focal point for policy discussions with government, for communication between chain participants and for activities to develop the industry. Therefore a series of round tables have been organised in West Africa to discuss the potential role of interprofessional organizations and to catalyze their launch where deemed appropriate.