Posted September 1996
Rome, FAO Headquarters
21-22 May 1996
FAO/IFAP Consultation for Enhanced Collaboration
Report of the Consultation
The purpose of the Consultation was to explore practical ways and means
of both developing more systematic collaboration between the International
Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) and FAO and enhancing the "synergy"
between IFAP and FAO programmes in promoting food security, farmers' organizations
and people's participation.
The last fifty years have witnessed a close collaborative and supportive
relationship between the two Organizations. FAO has always recognized the
crucial role that IFAP, the largest international organization representing
the world's farmers, plays in safeguarding and representing farmers' interests
at global and regional levels. Indeed, Sir John Boyd Orr, FAO's first Director-General,
addressed the founding conference of IFAP in London in 1946, and Dr Jacques
Diouf, FAO's present Director-General, gave the opening address at IFAP's
50th Anniversary World Farmers' Congress in Versailles in April 1996. A
further indication of IFAP's importance is the fact that the Organization
has enjoyed Category I consultative status with FAO and ECOSOC since 1946.
Over the years, IFAP has contributed to and helped promote a number of FAO's
participatory initiatives, such as: the Freedom From Hunger Campaign in
the early 1960s (the IFAP Secretary General was the first FFHC Coordinator),
the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD) and
its follow-up, the International Conference on Nutrition and now the World
Food Summit. In addition, one of the most important areas for systematic
collaboration has always been within the framework of the Committee for
the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) since its establishment
in 1971. [Member organizations of COPAC are: Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations, International Cooperative Alliance, International
Federation of Agricultural Producers, International Labour Organization,
International Union of Food, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied
Workers' Associations, United Nations and World Council of Credit Unions.]
The 1996 FAO/IFAP Consultation took as its starting point the retreat of
many governments from direct support for agricultural and rural development.
Debt problems and structural adjustment programmes in many developing and
transitional countries, as well as the dramatic cut-back in Official Development
Assistance by OECD countries, has meant that there is an urgent need to
redefine the division of roles between farmers and their representative
organizations, governments and private sector institutions. The withdrawal
of the state in many countries has left an institutional vacuum. It is therefore
vital that farmers and farmers' organizations including farmers' cooperatives
organize themselves to assume a new and central role in the rural development
process. Governments, however, must continue perform a facilitating role.
With this challenge in mind, the Consultation aimed at identifying areas
where collaboration between IFAP and FAO could produce greater benefits
for their member nations.
The topics addressed by the Consultation provoked a lively and rich exchange
of views between the IFAP and FAO representatives. A summary of the main
conclusions and recommendations for follow-up on the different agenda items
is given below in the order in which they were covered in the programme.
II. Conclusions and recommendations
A. Strengthening of Farmers' Organizations
It was agreed that IFAP and FAO would endeavour to develop a systematic
and comprehensive programme for strengthening the capacities of existing
farmers' organizations and establishing new farmers' organizations in countries
where at present there are no organizations that represent the interests
of small farmers. To this end:
FAO agreed to draw the attention, where possible, of Member Nations to IFAP's
Charter of Farmers' Organizations which sets out the policies and operating
principles of farmers' organizations.
- FAO's information base on IFAP member organizations and on farmers'
organizations in general would be strengthened; as a joint activity, IFAP
and FAO would aim to make an inventory of existing farmers' organizations
in developing countries and countries in transition;
- IFAP and FAO would collaborate in promoting networks representing farmers'
organizations, such as IFAP's Regional Committees, COPAC and the Regional
Network for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the
Pacific (NEDAC), as well as sub-regional organizations, for example, the
Platforme des Organisations des Paysans du Sahel. This collaboration would
focus especially on the areas of policy dialogue, information exchange and
joint programme activities;
- FAO and IFAP would undertake joint activities to strengthen existing
farmers' organizations, building on their respective experiences in this
area. The need for training in managerial skills and marketing was particularly
stressed. As a practical example of such joint activities, FAO and IFAP
will field a mission to Turkey in 1996 to assist in establishing a national
Agricultural Producers' Union.
IFAP and FAO agreed to explore practical ways and means to collaborate in
assisting farmers' organizations to assess the impacts of structural adjustment,
the Uruguay Round Agreements and Regional Integration Initiatives on agriculture
in general and small farmers in particular and to facilitate their participation
in policy dialogue on these issues with governments and the private sector.
B. Farmers' Organizations, Agricultural Research and Extension Linkages
It was recognized that IFAP had developed methodologies and accumulated
extensive experience in promoting linkages between farmers' organizations
and agricultural research and extension institutions. Several of these methodologies
have now been adopted by organizations such as the World Bank, the International
Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), and the Overseas Development
Institute (ODI). It was proposed that (i) IFAP's methodologies be studied
for use within FAO's activities; and (ii) these methodologies be extended
by incorporating linkages with agricultural education and training institutions,
for example, through a joint FAO/IFAP activity in Central America and the
Caribbean, which would undertake, inter alia, the preparation of a series
of case studies and the organization of a joint workshop to discuss these
studies and identify areas for follow-up.
Other potential areas identified for joint action included studies on the
role of farmers' organizations in agricultural extension as well as in the
field of development support communication.
C. Women's Participation in Farmers' Organizations
The high priority given by both Organizations to promoting women's participation
in sustainable agricultural and rural development, and ensuring their access
to the benefits of these processes, was underlined. Both Organizations reiterated
that gender issues should be treated in an integrated fashion throughout
their technical programmes at international, regional and national levels.
The long-standing and productive collaboration between FAO and IFAP in the
field of gender issues will continue, with particular focus on the following
- promotion and recognition of the professional status of women farmers;
- advocacy and capacity-building in support of women's enhanced participation
in farmers' organizations at all levels, including in decision-making positions,
in order to both empower women and strengthen farmers' organizations;
- collection of data on women in agriculture and their participation in
- preparation of an open forum on rural and farming women on the occasion
of the World Food Summit;
- consideration of instituting an annual celebration of a World Rural
Women's Day on 15th October, as proposed by women farmers' representatives
at the Beijing World Conference on Women. In 1996, the celebration would
be closely related to the preparations for the World Food Summit and the
role of women in food security.
D. Links between FAO Representatives and Farmers' Organizations: Regional
and Sub-regional Collaboration
It was agreed that a differentiated approach towards NGOs in general and
representative farmers' organizations, such as IFAP and its member organizations,
was needed. This could be further elaborated in the policy review document
which TCDN will be preparing on FAO collaboration with NGOs. IFAP's willingness
to contribute to this review was welcomed.
There was general agreement on the need for strengthening operational links
between FAO and IFAP at national and regional levels, in which FAO country
Representatives as well as the Regional and sub-Regional Offices would play
an increasingly important role. IFAP will contact its membership requesting
them to take the initiative to meet with FAO representatives at these different
levels. To this end, FAO and IFAP will exchange lists of names and addresses
of these national and regional representatives.
E. World Food Summit and Follow-up
FAO noted with appreciation the valuable contribution of IFAP and national
farmers' organizations in all the preparatory activities for the World Food
Summit. To date, these have included:
FAO has consistently encouraged member governments to include members of
civil society organizations and the private sector in the national committees
set up to prepare for and guide the follow-up to the World Food Summit.
IFAP will encourage its national level organizations to participate in these
national committees. The IFAP Secretariat will send its membership a copy
of the relevant documentation on these committees and encourage them to
take the initiative in contacting and joining these committees.
- IFAP representation in the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the
Inter-sessional Working Group set up by the CFS to refine the documents
for the WFS, and all the FAO Regional Conferences and NGO events held in
connection with the Summit;
- submission to the CFS and its Inter-Sessional Working Group of IFAP's
proposals for additions and amendments to the World Food Summit Draft Policy
Statement and Plan of Action, including a proposal for an additional Commitment
"to encourage and enable farmers and farmers' organizations, particularly
family farmers and small- holders, to take up greater responsibilities in
food and agriculture", together with corresponding measures under the
Plan of Action. The IFAP representative proposed this additional commitment
at the Inter-sessional Working Group meeting on 21 May 1996;
- the World Farmers' Congress, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of IFAP
in Versailles (April 1996), adopted a "Farmers' Strategy for Agricultural
Development and World Food Security". This document, elaborated and
proposed by farmers themselves, represents a specific contribution of world
farmers to the World Food Summit. The Director General of FAO opened this
World Farmers' Congress stressing the historical links between FAO and IFAP
and the vital contribution of farmers to achieving world food security.
On behalf of COPAC, IFAP proposed that a special COPAC Open Forum be organized
on "People's Organizations for Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development
and World Food Security" at the time of the World Food Summit. Preliminary
arrangements were discussed with the WFS Secretariat in this regard.
F. FAO Special Programme on Food Production in Support of Food Security
in Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs)
FAO expressed its readiness for closer collaboration with IFAP and its member
organizations in the implementation of the Special Programme at country
level, particularly in developing methods and procedures for ensuring active
participation by small farmers in the design, implementation, monitoring
and evaluation of the Special Programme through their representative organizations.
FAO proposed that IFAP and its member organizations be involved in an external
review of the participatory component of the pilot phase of the Special
Follow-up to this Consultation was considered essential by both organizations
and the need for systematic and regular meetings and exchange of information
at international, regional and country levels was unanimously emphasized.
Within FAO, general responsibility for and a coordinating role in follow-up
continues to be assumed by the Rural Development Division (SDA). However,
other appropriate FAO Headquarters' Divisions, Regional and Sub-Regional
Offices and Country Representations as well as IFAP's Regional Committees
and Member Organizations were called upon to pursue the foregoing recommendations
in their respective areas of interest.