This chat took place in the comments section at the bottom of this page. Please scroll down to read the discussion! Although the active time period with the featured experts happened on May 18, feel free to weigh in and engage anytime!
Working with smallholder producer groups is a classic means of empowering farmers to achieve sustainable outcomes, but it can also present challenges. Even the most cohesive, well-resourced farmer groups face difficulties like environmental and financial shocks, distrust, and limitations to market access.
This online chat discussed the basics of working with farmer organizations and to assess innovative approaches to training farmer groups. You can still share a nugget of advice that can help other practitioners engage farmer groups more efficiently, or your impact data from a recent project that others may benefit from below.
The guiding questions included:
- What are the benefits and challenges of working through farmer groups to deliver agricultural programming?
- Based on your work, do you have impact data that give insight into how working through farmer groups improves or scales agricultural productivity?
- If you had to boil down how you approach working with farmer groups/cooperatives into three to five steps, what would those steps be?
The featured experts included:
Greg Grothe manages USAID-funded cooperative programs in four countries in East Africa that focus on value chain development with dairy and multi-purpose cooperatives. He also provides technical oversight and support to a portfolio of enterprise acceleration and market development programs in Africa and Asia. Over his 15-year career, Grothe has served in international business leadership roles in both financial services and agribusiness industries.
Benjamin C. Mueller is the Chief of Party for Strengthening Extension Advisory Services in Georgia (SEAS). Since 2014, SEAS, a USAID-funded activity, has had success in building the capacity of extension agents and extension-focused Georgian organizations, including the Ministry of Agriculture. Before SEAS, Benjamin managed the USAID Farmer Advisory Services Tajikistan project and produced a rural sector study to assess and develop an action plan for the extension service of the National Federation of Coffee Growers in Colombia while working with the Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) consortium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Gitau Mbure serves as Senior Technical Advisor for Agriculture and Natural Resource Management at World Vision. He has over 13 years of experience working in agricultural development. In his current role, Mbure supports food security programs in Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Zimbabwe. Prior to joining World Vision, Mbure provided technical and managerial oversight for USAID-funded programs with resident assignments in Malawi, Rwanda and South Sudan. His expertise includes working with smallholder farmer groups to strengthen markets systems, climate smart agriculture, agriculture-nutrition integration and disaster risk reduction.
Vincent Frimpong Manu is the Ghana Country Coordinator for the World Cocoa Foundation’s Cocoa Livelihoods Program (CLP). Both at WCF and prior at Solidaridad, Vincent has set up projects and brokered partnerships with international organizations, national institutions, NGOs, farmer organizations, private companies and government agencies. He initiated the National Cocoa Stakeholders' Conference for stakeholders in Ghana’s cocoa sector to annually meet and discuss cocoa sustainability issues in Ghana. Vincent serves on a number of local and international committees including the National Technical Committee on Cocoa Extension in Ghana, a working group for the development of CEN/ISO standard for cocoa and a member of the Global Advisory Group of the Green Development Initiative (GDI).