Farmers' Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP)

Ready, set, train…Farmer’s Organizations ready to learn new skills for boosting production and incomes of farmers

The Farmers’ Organization for African, Caribbean and the Pacific (FO4ACP) Programme sets plans into motion for capacity building training of six Jamaican Farmers’ Organizations

FO4ACP Workshop Jamaica

FO4ACP National Workshop in Jamaica

©FAO Jamaica - Walker Albert

04/06/2022 , Kingston

Kingston. June 2, 2022. Farmers’ organizations in Jamaica have long filled roles of supporting farmers and communities to gain better access to financing and markets and to boost their agricultural production. Despite this, their training needs continue to increase along with their need to transition with current and changing social, economic and environmental conditions.

The Farmers’ Organization for African, Caribbean and the Pacific (FO4ACP)Programmeis an initiative designed tosupport farmers’ organizations by increasing their capacity to advocate for their members.

On Wednesday, June 1, the FO4ACP Programme gathered over 40 representatives from Farmers’ Organizations and key experts at its National Stakeholders Workshop on Strengthening the Capacity of Farmers’ Organizations to Promote Sustainable Family Farming. The workshop was organized along with co-implementing agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Procasur Corporation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.  It aimed to understand the challenges faced by small holder farmers, define family farming in Jamaica and identify training opportunities for farmers organizations.

Minister Pearnel Charles Jnr of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries delivered remarks at the openingand emphasized his support for the FO4ACP initiative. He highlighted that that there was an urgent need to“empower, engage and educate our small farmers and to find ways of maximizing income generation for small farmers and their families.” He concluded that by “identifying the challenges that affected their growth, we were better placed to determine howtooffer support.”

Challenges and opportunities for small holder famers

Participants, both in person and online,engaged in lively discussions to understand the challenges facing small holder farmers in the country and to determine what solutions and opportunities existed or could be created to address them. Among some of the challenges identified wereissues around land access and management, lack of access to sufficient and consistent irrigation, access to markets and collateral needed for financing, incorporating agriculture into theMicro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME)sector, inadequate policies and legislation to support and protect small scale farmers, understandingagriculture as a business, and the use of technology.

Many opportunities for the FO4ACP programme to address some of these issues, through collaboration with local government agencies and local stakeholders, were raised. Governance, strategic planning and business development were among the key areas. Other mentioned areas included computer literacy training, investing in psychosocial development for farmers to encourage trust building, establishing high standards at the farm level, promotion of land reform policies, increased training for extension officers and training of trainers, and promoting value added agriculture. It was agreed that these areas would be considered under the development of the training programme.

Family Farming

While Jamaica has not actively sought to define ‘family farming’, the workshop proffered an opportunity for participants to share their views on the global and regional definitions shared by the National Technical Assistant for the FO4ACP Programme, Ms Selvine Stephenson.

Key experts such as Dr. K'adamaweK'Nife, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Thinking and Practice (CETP), shared the perspective that “the phenomenon of family farms has long existed in Jamaica and has been crucial in introducing many current farmers to the profession of farming.” These and other views shared by participants from the Forestry Department, the Bureau of Standards, farmer’s organizations and a range of other stakeholders, helped in understanding the concept of family farming and better defining it within the local context. This understanding of family farming was crucial in helping to identify any similarities between small holder farmers and propel opportunities to obtain support for Jamaica through initiatives such as those under the United Nations Decade for Family Farming 2019-2028.

Supporting six selected Farmers’ Organizations (FOs)

In April 2022, FAO issued a call for interest in the training of farmers’ organizations. From the group of applicants, six qualified farmers organizations were selected to participate in specialized training. The Stakeholder workshop is the first aspect of the training development process and sought to learn from the selected FOs and key invited experts, some of the areas of training to ensure efficient and productive operations.

Mr Juan Moreno, Director at PROCASUR Corporation, a regional farmer organization involved in the programme, remarked that an enabling environment and the motivation of and engagement with farmers' organizations were two key areas to ensure their strengthened capacity to promote sustainable Family Farming.

Expounding on this point wasPedro De Jesus Boareto, Project Coordinator for the FO4ACP Programme. He noted that the programme “will help to improve the capacity of Farmers Organizations to work better together. He mentioned that the programme would work with Farmers’ Organizations in Jamaica to support their institutional development, build a common framework for action and develop services to connect their members to markets".

Next Steps

In the coming months, the training courses requested by the farmers’organizations will be designed and delivered with the support of recommended partner agencies and organizations in Jamaica. It is anticipated that these trainings will help to ease some of the challenges highlighted and promote the success and sustainability of small-scale farmers in Jamaica.

About the FO4ACP Programme

In the Caribbean, the FO4ACP Programme is implemented by the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, PROCASUR Corporation and Agricord. In addition to Jamaica, the programme is being executed inBelize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti and Saint Lucia. It is funded by the International Fund forAgricultural Development (IFAD), together with the European Union (EU) and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). 

caribbean family farming farmers organizations jamaica workshop

Chrishane Williams-James

FAO Communications Consultant, Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize

[email protected]