African forest and farm producer organizations outline vision for production in changing climate

© Sophie Grouwels / FAO

Morogoro, United Republic of Tanzania, 29 September 2017 African forest and farm producer organizations have been outlining their vision for increasing the market share and value of member products, increasing opportunities for women and youth, all while coping with climate change.

Some 160 participants from at least 15 African countries attending the 2nd African Regional Conference of Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (FFPOs) also discussed successes and challenges and shared experiences, with the goal of improving business strategies that meet their members’ aspirations.

“From this conference, we believe that the FFPOs across Africa will take home practical lessons from their peers in different countries to strengthen their ability to improve livelihoods and access to markets for all of their members — including women and youth — while responding proactively to climate change. FFPOS are key actors in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa,” said Jeffrey Campbell, manager of the Forest Farm Facility (FFF) at FAO.

Guidelines for developing markets as well as models for business incubation and innovation were high on the agenda. Among success stories presented was an FFF-facilitated series on “Contacts and Collaboration” fairs in the Gambia. These brought together FFPOs and players along the value chain with the shared goal of increasing the market value of goods from producer organizations. Another successful model examined the expansion of regulations for cooperatives allowing Ethiopian honey producers to diversify into Eucalyptus pole production and other forest products.

Participants also examined ways to promote more livelihood opportunities for rural youth through local production activities, thus providing incentives to reduce migration to cities.

During the conference, entitled ‘Strengthening Forest and Farm Producers’ Organizations in a Changing Climate’, FFPOs also considered the best ways to improve policy environments which address the need for cross-sectoral coordination as well as securing access to resources and finances, thus removing barriers for forest and farm producers. 

Developing more climate-resilient operations was a critical topic at the conference – particularly the role of smallholder associations in landscape restoration and in combating desertification while supporting adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts. Participants reviewed experiences in many countries, including Niger, with the Action Against Desertification Project in support of the Great Green Wall, where a restoration model has been developed with communities at its center.

The conference was opened by the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania Jummane Maghembe and hosted by the National Networks of Farmers’ Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA) with the National Tree Growers Association of Tanzania. It builds on the first such regional conference held in June 2015 in Kenya. The event was co-organized by FFF (a partnership between FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and AgriCord) and the International Family Forestry Association (IFFA), Africa Forest Enterprises Connect Network (AFECONET), We Effect, Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners/Finnish Agri-agency for Food and Forest Development (MTK/FFD), Farm Forestry Smallholder Producers Association of Kenya (FF-SPAK), Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa (NGARA), and the African Union Commission.

last updated:  Friday, September 29, 2017