Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment


RISE’s Work Area on Rural Services aims to improve access to services through pluralistic systems for service delivery, promoting inclusivity, market orientation and empowerment of small-scale producers as informed actors in agrifood 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.  


To empower small-scale producers and their organizations to take informed decisions and act collectively to improve their livelihoods and actively engage in transforming agrifood systems. 


The Work Area provides evidence-based policy support and institutional strengthening for advancing rural services, and developing the capacities of service producers, producer organizations and farmers to improve vulnerable producers’ access to services and markets, towards inclusive agrifood systems

Target Group/Stakeholders 

The main stakeholders are small-scale producers and family farmers, with a focus on the inclusion of women, youth and vulnerable producers; 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 rural services from a pluralistic and market-oriented systems perspective, to generate evidence and document good practices to inform policies and programmes, with a focus on inclusivity, equality and empowerment;

  • 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 United States under the Food Coalition;

  • Capacity development: Developing the 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 for advancing rural services. For example, regional assessment of rural advisory services from a pluralistic and market-oriented perspective in the Near East.