Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment


RISE’s Work Area on Rural Services improves access to services through pluralistic systems for service delivery, promoting inclusivity, market orientation and empowerment of small-scale producers as informed actors in agri-food systems. It draws on the plurality of support institutions and service providers, from public, private and producer organizations, to cater for the wide range of services required by smallholders to increase productivity, manage their farm business, act collectively and link to profitable markets. Producer organizations and cooperatives play a central role in this respect, both as service providers and as mediators with other actors on behalf of their members and communities, to enable collective economic action and effective engagement in transformative processes.    


The purpose of the work area on Rural Services is to empower small-scale producers and their organizations to take informed decisions and act collectively to improve their livelihoods and engage as key actors in transforming agri-food systems. 


The Work Area provides evidence-based policy support and institutional strengthening on pluralistic services, and developing capacities of service producers, producer organizations and farmers to improve access of vulnerable producers to services and markets, towards inclusive agri-food systems. 

Target Group/Stakeholders 

The target group/stakeholders are small-scale producers, family farmers and vulnerable producers, including women and youth; service providers from public, private and civil society organizations; and producer organizations and cooperatives.

Support Provided 

  • Knowledge generation: Providing conceptual and methodological guidelines for analysis and programming of pluralistic and market-oriented service systems, and the role of producer organizations therein, to generate evidence and document good practices to inform policies and programmes; 

  • Advocacy: Advocating for increased investments in strengthening rural institutions and improving service provision to promote market-orientation and entrepreneurship for small-scale producers, including in the context of FAO COVID-19 Response and Recovery efforts;  

  • Partnerships: Facilitating and supporting partnerships and coalitions to improve farmers’ access to services and markets. For example, collaboration with Coldiretti and other farmers’ market associations in Ghana, Italy, Norway and the USA under the Food Coalition; 

  • Capacity development: Developing institutional and human capacities of service providers, producer organizations and farmers to promote market-orientation and “farming as a business”, including through Farm Business School and Cooperative Business School approaches, for example in Lebanon and Oman;  

  • Technical support and advice: Providing advice and support to Member States on the appraisal of pluralistic market-oriented advisory services, and the role of producer organizations therein, to inform policy and programming for improving access to services;   

  • Policy dialogue: Facilitating evidence-based policy dialogue and stakeholder consultations, and strengthening producer organizations. For example, regional assessment of Pluralistic Market-Oriented Extension and Advisory Services in the Near East.