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Farmer organizations

Resources and bargaining power for rural producers

Small family farms make up 85 per cent of all farms worldwide, and the people who live on them constitute the majority of the rural poor. To mitigate the challenges that come with working in isolation − and to increase profitability and productivity − these smallholders form organizations.

When smallholders and other resource-poor agricultural producers work together it becomes easier to access farming inputs such as seeds, plant material, water, fertilizers and pesticides, and to aggregate produce to reach larger markets. Farmers are then able to reduce costs and improve their bargaining power. And when farmers thrive, they're better positioned to improve their food security and move out of poverty. Other players in food systems benefit too.

Collaboration from the ground up

Organizations run by smallholder producers are not simply IFAD project beneficiaries – they’re strategic partners. Not only do they deliver services to their members and speak on their behalf, but also key actors in social and policy dialogue at the local, national and international levels.

IFAD recognises this central role of farmers’ organizations in smallholder development. To fulfil this role, they also need specific attention and support to bolster their effectiveness and sustainability. That’s why we are supporting them to build their capacity and strengthen their institutions to perform.

IFAD involves rural producers and their organizations in the design and implementation of strategies and the projects we support. We also help broker innovative public-private-producer partnerships that bring famers' organizations and private sector operators together to ensure public-private collaborations are also benefiting small producers.

Consultation and dialogue for inclusive development

The Farmers’ Forum is the overall framework of the partnership between IFAD and organizations run by smallholder farmers. The Forum facilitates a permanent process of consultation between these producer organizations, IFAD and governments, focusing on rural development and poverty reduction. At the global level, the Farmers’ Forum was established in 2005, and facilitates an ongoing, bottom-up dialogue between rural farmers' organizations from all over the world, IFAD and our Member States. It serves as an operational tool to orientate our operations and to foster partnerships between IFAD and farmers’ organizations.

Farmers' organizations collaborate with IFAD through the design and implementation of IFAD country strategies and investment projects. IFAD also channels funds to directly support their initiatives. Over the last decade, direct support has been organized at regional level through large grant programmes co-financed and in partnership with like-minded donors: Support to Farmers' Organizations in Africa Programme and the Medium-term Cooperation Programme with farmers’ organizations in Asia and the Pacific. Other operational partnerships support the engagement of farmers’ organizations in policy platforms. Examples include the REAF Mercosur programme in Latin America and support to the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation to draft and generate approval for the East African Community Cooperative Societies Bill to improve regional legislation on cooperatives. These partnerships in turn enhance the effectiveness of IFAD-funded programmes. Tellingly, the partnership between IFAD and farmers’ organizations today is part of the modus operandi of our work.



Why farmers’ organizations matter: Your questions answered

Farmers’ organizations mean small-scale farmers can access markets, inputs, finance and information that would otherwise be hard to come by. Find out what farmers’ organisations are and what IFAD is doing to support them.



Democratic Republic of the Congo

North Kivu Agriculture Sector Support Project (PASA-NK)


Support to Farmers’ Professional Organizations and Agricultural Services Project


The Project for Restoration of Livelihoods in the Northern Region


Asset Publisher

Antonella Cianciotta

Technical Specialist, Farmers' Organizations in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP)

[email protected]

Alice Van Der Elstraeten

KM and M&E Analyst, Farmers' Organizations in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP)

[email protected]

Stories and news

Stories and news

Why farmers’ organizations matter: Your questions answered

August 2023 - STORY
Farmers’ organizations mean small-scale farmers can access markets, inputs, finance and information that would otherwise be hard to come by. Find out what farmers’ organisations are and what IFAD is doing to support them.

The people feeding the world should get their due

July 2023 - STORY
Despite their gruelling work, rural people all over the world aren’t getting a fair return. Find out how IFAD is empowering small-scale farmers to earn and produce more, while improving their working conditions.

Behind the scenes of an IFAD project: Your top questions answered

April 2023 - STORY
Find out what happens behind the scenes of an IFAD project as we answer our followers’ top questions.

Related publications

Related publications

Access to Finance for Farmers’ Organizations: Evidence from a multi-country survey

April 2023
This report offers new evidence to inform the design of suitable and timely financial products for farmer organizations, based on a survey of 220 farmers’ organizations in West Africa and Asia and the Pacific.

Multiple roles of farmers’ and producers’ organizations in responding to the Covid-19 crisis

May 2022
Faced with a triple health, economic, and social crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, Farmers’ Organizations (FOs) have been called on by members and partners to play a variety of roles in response to the crisis.

Stocktaking of Farmer Field Schools: Collective action, self-organization, and the role of farmers’ organizations in scaling up and institutionalizing FFS

February 2022
The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach is adopted in the vast majority of projects funded by IFAD in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this stocktaking, we analyse the extent to which the FFS approach helped peasant farmers engage in collective action, band together, and become more autonomous in responding to the problems they face.