What is the challenge? Smallholder farmers face many opportunities, but also huge challenges in today’s markets. Within the global supply chain, they tend to be the weakest link, as the majority of these farmers cannot rely on support services and do not have access to professional training, inputs, financial and transport services. Often, they are trapped in a vicious cycle of dependency and indebtedness, predominantly to middlemen. Worldwide, the majority of smallholders find themselves in an unsupportive environment, preventing them from further developing their agricultural potential.
To access key services and be able to compete in markets, producers have to move toward collective action in the form of farmer organizations. The problem is that these farmers, in particular women, usually lack the skills and resources to develop strong producer organizations that can provide the services required by their members.
How do we address this problem: through a thorough organizational development approach and expert support. We support farmers in establishing professionally managed and transparent farmer organizations that are capable of providing important services to their members. This is achieved by building the technical and management capacities of individual farmers and also the leadership of farmer organizations. As members of these organizations, farmers can free themselves from dependencies and are no longer held captive to commercial relationships. As a result, they can develop as entrepreneurs, achieving economies of scale and competitiveness, for example, by marketing their coffee in bulk, and saving costs on storage and transport.
In addition to generating economic impact on a household level, farmer organizations also become important platforms in rural settings for supplementary development activities conducted by the farmers themselves or by third parties. Structures, mechanisms, and framework conditions are established to ensure the continuous growth and development of these farmer organizations.