FAO - Roma Tre University partnership: generating evidence-based analysis to support inclusion and resilience of small-scale family farmers

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FAO - Roma Tre University partnership: generating evidence-based analysis to support inclusion and resilience of small-scale family farmers
31/01/2020 -  Rome - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Roma Tre University showcased findings from a joint study on producer organizations, highlighting strategies that can be used to ensure the inclusion of poor family farmers in cooperatives and producer organizations (POs).

The study, which ran from 2018-2019, contributes both to Link identifier #identifier__62255-1FAO Strategic Objective 3 – Reduce rural poverty, and Link identifier #identifier__131835-2Pillar 4 of the United Nations Decade of Family FarmingStrengthen family farmers’ organizations and capacities to generate knowledge, represent farmers and provide inclusive services in the urban-rural continuum.

Masters students from Roma Tre undertook fieldwork in Brazil, Georgia, Ghana, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, the Philippines and Rwanda, working closely with POs from various sectors, in conjunction with FAO partner organizations including Link identifier #identifier__83028-3La Via Campesina (LVC), the Link identifier #identifier__127711-4Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the Link identifier #identifier__8629-5Network of Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers in West Africa (ROPPA), the Link identifier #identifier__53351-6International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), and the Link identifier #identifier__199110-7Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA).

Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques, the research aimed to investigate the reasons behind the exclusion of poor family farmers from cooperatives and POs, as well as to review strategies put in place to favor their inclusion through the provision of services and advocacy campaigns, while not reducing the organizations’ overall performance. 

The findings demonstrate that in most of the countries, poor family farmers who are members of producer organizations are relatively better off than those who are not. An enabling environment and the provision of effective demand-driven services emerge as key drivers for successfully addressing members’ motivations – economic, knowledge and participation related, and for achieving inclusive and well performing organizations. 

A history of supporting family farmers  

The UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF) highlights the importance of knowledge sharing, participation and partnerships amongst different actors as a basis for coherent and collective actions to support family farmers. A Link identifier #identifier__179899-8Global Action Plan, built around seven pillars, helps to mobilize concrete, coordinated actions to overcome challenges family farmers face, strengthen their investment capacity, and put in place long-term and sustainable solutions.

“The UN Decade of Family Farming promotes learning from experience, evidence-based approaches and participatory knowledge development and sharing,” said Dongxin Feng, Chief of Capacity Development and Academia Partnerships, PSP.  “Partnerships with academia can play an important role in contributing to the UNDFF. As incubators of knowledge and research, academic and research institutions foster critical thinking and can generate tailored technologies and innovations, which are essential in the fight against hunger and poverty.”

Since 2016, FAO and Roma Tre University have collaborated closely on various academic and research activities. In addition to the study showcased during the seminar, joint research initiatives have also included a study on how smallholder cooperatives make responsible investment in agriculture possible in Uganda (2016-2017) and a documentation of innovative and inclusive farming experiences of the cooperative movement in Italy (2017).  FAO and Roma Tre University have been jointly working on knowledge exchange initiatives in other thematic areas linked to FAO’s mandate and both partners are looking forward to expanding and strengthening their collaboration. 

“Roma Tre University has diverse and fruitful collaborations with FAO both in knowledge exchange and research activities in various fields of common interest, such as food security and nutrition, food safety, climate change, producer organizations and rural poverty reduction, trade and commodity markets, amongst many others,” noted Luca Pietromarchi, the Rector of the university. “It is urgent and necessary to improve synergies and outcomes in our collaboration and to strengthen and extend our relations to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals."