FAO Capacity Development

Equitable producer organizations to fight poverty and malnutrition in Niger

FAO promotes gender equity and improved governance in producer organizations to enhance their representation and participation in policy processes at national and sub-national levels

Producer organizations (POs) are recognized by governments in Africa as an important partner in the fight against poverty and malnutrition. POs enable small-scale producers (e.g. farmers, fisherpeople) to have better access to finance, inputs, information and markets. POs can also give producers a voice in policy processes, making sure their needs and interests are taken into account. However, the capacity of POs to play this role is often hindered by organizational weaknesses and lack of negotiation skills.

In 2012 FAO, with the support of the European Union, started the CoOPequity Programme in Niger. The programme, which is part of FAO's work to support rural institutions and gender equity in rural development, aims to strengthen PO governance and equity so that POs can play a stronger role at national and sub-national levels.

Translating FAO’s Capacity Development Framework into action
Capacity development is the overarching principle and main modus operandi of CoOPequity, with its multi-stakeholder processes, focus on sustainability and ownership, and innovative partnerships.  CoOPequity is using FAO’s Capacity Development Framework to guide its activities for strengthening the capacities of POs in Niger at the individual, organizational and policy enabling environment dimensions.  

The programme has identified priority needs of the POs it will be working with, and has developed a national plan of action between the government and the POs to strengthen the latter’s performance, governance and equity. The tools and approach used are based on FAO Learning Module 4: Organizational Analysis and Development and tailored to the Niger context.   

Supporting organizational change and individual learning for improved governance and gender equality
CoOPequity supports gender-sensitive organizational change of two unions of POs in different regions of Niger. The results of a governance and gender assessment highlighted under-representation of women and young people in PO decision-making processes, lack of communication and insufficient financial resources.  

Based on the results of the assessment, the programme builds on existing capacities of PO staff members strengthened in Dimitra listening clubs and Farmer Field schools, providing trainings to further strengthen their management, negotiation and leadership capacities, particularly among women.  

As internal governance and management of POs is generally weak, training courses and coaching are provided to improve the fair representation and general performance of the organizations. A pool of facilitators from the Government has been created to provide continued support to the POs.

Facilitating policy dialogue between POs and the Government
The programme facilitates networking and dialogue between POs, as well as between POs and the Government. In particular, it supports the main apex POs and their networks to collaborate and more actively participate in decision-making, such as in the preparation of a common, agreed PO position on the draft law on agricultural policy.  Activities focus on addressing the lack of unity between the POs so that they bring a strong and coherent position to policy meetings with the Government. This involves facilitating meetings and workshops as well as bringing in local experts to accompany the dialogue between POs. In addition, the rules of procedure of the POs are now more equitable.  

Next Steps
CoOPequity is now developing a toolbox on equity and governance for rural organizations. The toolbox will include gender-sensitive assessment tools, training modules for organizational development and best practices for promoting the role of POs.  

"There is a great potential for the CoOPequity approach to be scaled up and applied to other technical areas and countries to support governments and POs to work together to improve the livelihoods of rural men and women", says Carol Djeddah,  Senior Officer, Rural Institutions.

See more on CoOPequity

Share this page