Strong, effective and inclusive rural institutions are essential for food security, poverty reduction, economic development and the empowerment of small producers and of the rural poor. The Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESW) works to advance FAO’s Strategic Objective G to support governments to build enabling environments for the development of efficient and equitable producer organizations, which have a particularly important role to play in improving agricultural profitability and sustainability.
The Division provides policy advice and technical assistance to support the capacity of Member Countries and FAO Units to create an enabling environment for institutions and organizations serving small producers and to strengthen the participation of rural institutions in the design of agriculture and rural development policies and programmes. To this end, the Division works closely with FAO’s Office of Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension Capacity Development group to develop learning and capacity development modules on rural institution building.
The Division also acts as the focal point and Chair of FAO’s Inter Departmental Working Group on Institution Building (IDWG) and supports the cross-departmental work of over twenty technical units engaged in strengthening rural institutions. The IDWG works to identify and overcome strategic challenges related to institution building, to promote institution building good practices across sectors, to strengthen existing and new partnerships that support producer organizations and other rural institutions, and to enable smallholders to integrate markets. The group disseminates FAO resources related to institution building and producer organization capacity development through FAO's Capacity Development Portal. As part of its role as focal point, the Division also represents FAO’s work on institution building in meetings and events, including the inter-agency Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC).
The Division also works closely with the World Farmers’ Organization (WFO), a global network of National Farmers’ Organizations and agricultural cooperative organizations that advocates on behalf of world farmers and works to facilitate cooperation between member organizations and to improve the economic situation and livelihood of producers, their families and rural communities. The Division and WFO collaborate on a range of initiatives including sharing and raising awareness on good practices in institutional innovations.