EU support to increase farmers' voices: the Farmers' Africa Programme.

EU support to increase farmers' voices: the Farmers' Africa Programme.

African FOs can play a crucial part in tackling the challenge of reducing rural poverty and enhancing food security. They articulate and represent the concerns, interests and solutions of producers that have gathered around them so that their voices can be heard by other economic actors and by governments and development partners.

Roberto Longo, Senior Technical Specialist, Farmers' organizations programmes, IFAD


Agriculture remains the main source of employment for the labour force in Africa. Nonetheless, low productivity, uncompetitive markets, weak rural infrastructure, among other factors, have reduced the opportunities for smallholders to feed themselves and earn an income from agriculture. Farmers’ organisations are fundamental in giving a voice to farmers and in supporting their integration in markets. Their influence on policy making, however, is still weak. Capacity building from the bottom-up is essential for these organisations in order to better contribute to agricultural development.


  • Through the Farmers’ Africa Programme, the EU aims to increase the livelihoods and food security of rural producers in Africa by helping farmers’ organizations (FOs) improve their capacity and skills. This reinforces their role in better shaping policies for agriculture and sustainable development, at national, regional and continental levels.
  • The action is divided in two programmes: Support to Farmers’ Organisations in Africa Programme (SFOAP) – and Farmers Fighting Poverty – Food Security Initiatives of Farmers’ Organisations in a Regional Perspective (Africa) (FFP/AFRICA). It is made up of 4 components as follows:
  • Building up the institutional and organisational capacities of FOs;
  • Enabling FOs at different levels to influence policies on priority subjects;
  • Improving the entrepreneurial capacities of FOs and their participation in value chains
  • Strengthening the capacity of the Pan-African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO) to participate in and influence policy processes on agriculture and rural development at continental and international levels.


  • Since 2009, SFOAP and FFP/Africa have indirectly supported over 50 million farmers’, members of 68 national farmers’ organisations across 49 countries;
  • Under SFOAP, part of this support included training of more than 2500 organization leaders, staff and/or members mainly on financial management of a cooperative or a FO, as well as training of more than 5000 farmers on how to develop project proposals and business plans to set up their activities. Under the FFP/Africa over 200.000 farmers participated in technical trainings on extension services, farmer field schools and other business topics;
  • Out of the 99 project proposals developed, SFOAP programme provided direct support for the launching of 32 sub-projects for the development of different activities (eggs production, cassava production, and transformation and marketing; pig production, production of organic fertilizer, etc.).
  • FFP/AFRICA programme contributed to the implementation of 64 additional projects (mainly for development of food crops - vegetables, rice and maize – and livestock activities), with the financial support of Agricord agencies to complement the funding provided by the EU, working mostly in Tanzania, Senegal, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Uganda;
  • Thanks to trainings, to project support and to the provision of economic services, farmers experienced improvements in agricultural productivity which range from 30% to 150%.
  • For example, in Morocco, productivity increased by one third for honey producers and by ¾ for fruit producers; in East Africa, the average productivity almost doubled for potato, diary and cassava producers;
  • Farmers also gained higher incomes/revenues. For example Ugandan farmers, that were supported by SFOAP to introduce cassava varieties, had an increase in revenues of between +210% and +357%; Moreover, some farmers supported by FFF/Africa programme have been able to negotiate better prices, sometimes seeing the market price for their product increased by 100%;
  • Thanks to these two programmes, farmers have also become better market actors. Particularly, under FFP/Africa, FOs have created over 800 linkages with market outlets and over 600 agreements with the private sector to sell mainly food crops with individual buyers that buy their products regularly.
  • In some cases, projects managed to organise sales to institutional buyers (Word Food Programme in Burundi, industrial milk processors in Uganda).
  • In terms of policy engagement, among other activities, the Farmers’ Africa programme (SFOAP and FFF/Africa) sponsored 219 lobbying/advocacy events as well as 636 local, national and international policy forums to advance farmers’ policy positions (55 policy position documents produced to be submitted to other economic actors and governments).
  • Thanks to this work, the programmes contributed to increase the political and policy influence of FOs. For example, in Central Africa, 5 of the 6 NFOs - national farmers organisations – have been designated by their respective governments as the representatives of farmers in country teams of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); in Southern Africa, there has been a 90% increase in participation of NFOs in policy task forces (from 41 in 2013 to 78 in 2017);


  • There are tens of thousands of grass-roots farmers’ organisations across Africa. Many grass-roots farmers’ organisations set up local unions and federations that are linked to national organisations. They have also established five regional networks:
  • Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF); Plateforme Sous-Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC); Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA);
  • Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU); and Union Maghrébine et Nord-Africaines des Agriculteurs (UMNAGRI).
  • Since 2008, IFAD and the European Union have been developing a strategic alliance in support of farmers’ organisations, mobilizing over EUR 51 million.
  • This support has been provided also thanks to the contribution of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Agence Française de de Développement (AFD) and key technical partners such as AgriCord.
  • The SFOAP programme currently provides assistance to 68 national farmers’ organisations (NFOs) (indirectly dealing with more than 50 million farmers) in 49 countries, and their five regional networks and the Pan-African Farmers’ Organisation (PAFO).
  • FFP/AFRICA , thanks to institutional donors (such as the EU and others) as well as to the involvement of 10 agri-agencies coordinated by AgriCord, supports 56 farmers organisations in 19 countries;
  • Since 2015, the EU also provides EUR 15 million worth of support to farmers organisations in Asian countries through the ASEAN Farmers' Organisations Support Programme.


Increased market access and income from Cassava production: the case of the TUBEHONEZA cooperative in Burundi.

The SFOAP programme in Burundi supports the organisation CAPAD which is member of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF). CAPAD assisted Cassava smallholder farmers of two cooperatives , helping them to introduce disease resistant varieties of cassava and to develop business plans for its selling.  

"Ms GAHIMBARE, mother of five children, has been a member of TUBEHONEZA cooperative since its establishment and has already benefited from several trainings on cassava production techniques. She explained that being the first source of income in their household, cassava was grown on 40 Ares in 2015 and, at harvest, her family sold at the market the entire production for approximately Euros 320 (BIF 650,000). The family made the decision to build a modern house with bricksand sheet metal. They are now happy for that achievement given that their first house was in straw. Her husband used the remainder of the income to start-up a grocery business at the local market.

Mr Adrien NKESHIMANA is the head of a household with five children. The area of his cassava production is ​​60 Ares. Thanks to the support of CADAP, he harvested 3 tons of cassava and he sold the production at approximately Euros 960 (BIF 2,000,000). With this income, he built a home of durable materials and the livelihoods of his family have been improved. For his household, cassava is the main source of income. With earnings from cassava, they can cover health care and school fees.

Mrs Jocelyne NSANZIMANA is a mother of three children and she is involved in growing cassava cuttings in an area of ​​14 Ares. She is the main supplier of cassava cuttings to the TUBEHONEZA cooperative. She is known throughout the municipality as a producer of quality cassava cuttings. It is thanks to this business that she managed to buy solar energy and her family currently lives in a well-lit house and looks forward to being a cassava producer.

The processing of cassava into quality flour, access to credits and other activities carried out under the SFOAP project have completely changed the mind-sets of members of the cooperative and other producers in the community because they have recently discovered that cassava became « White Gold» in their households.”