Several farmer organizations or PO federations are involved in supporting RUs and in the production of local services. Four of these organizations (AOPP / CNOP-Mali, …
West African agricultural production systems (APS) are very diverse. This diversity responds to the diversity of natural environments, particularly to the variation in climates…
The family nature of the farm does not guarantee all family members to have a recognized and respected place and to be able to emancipate themselves. This is too…
ROPPA is already supporting POs engaged in a number of sectors organized or under construction at the regional level, such as the rice, livestock and fishing sectors…
ROPPA said the importance it attached to this issue in the Tenkodogo Declaration: “In West Africa, family farmers, consumers, and public authorities, the same fight for food…
Several farmers’ organizations or federations of POs are involved in the accompaniment of EFs and in the production of proximity services. Four of these organizations (AOPP/CNOP-Mali, FNGN/CPF-Burkina Faso, FONGS/CNCR-Senegal, FPFD/CNOP-Guinea), meeting in Brussels on March 25, 2014, told their European partners together about their commitment in this field for several decades. At the end of this seminar, they published a “roadmap” – “Towards a partnership between FOs, the State and other actors for a comprehensive and proximity support of family farms in West Africa” which proposed to their national and international partners to cooperate.
In addition to the services provided to the farmers, the action of these FOs has enabled the emergence of a “farmers’ path” of support, based on exchanges between farmers, the training of endogenous facilitators, the monitoring of the farmers thanks to different methods of simplified assessments and mediation with various types of technical services. Some POs have been able to go further and set up “services” in terms of management, technical support, marketing or credit organization. This roadmap was taken up by the ROPPA Board of Directors, which endorsed this cooperation proposal and, in the “Dakar Declaration”, asked governments to support the creation of “national systems of accompaniment and local support for family farms” (SNAAP-EF), bringing together all the public and private organizations working in this field, and to put in place the financial tools that would allow the activities and services of such national systems to be sustained.
This issue of accompaniment and proximity support to the FS is at the heart of the development of our FS. It is a question of building a sustainable “transmission belt” between the world of agricultural production and all the institutions specialized in the areas of financing, access to inputs, research and technical support, advice, etc. Such transmission belts, which were very imperfect at the time, existed, but they disappeared with the public extension organizations during structural adjustment policies. We are not asking governments and international cooperation agencies to revive these public extension organizations, we are asking them to build with us national public/private systems articulating a proximity accompaniment, in the spirit of this “peasant way”, which has proved its worth and which our FOs know how to animate, and technical, financial, economic, commercial institutions, which our FOs need to progress. We want reversible transmission belts that work in both directions, towards the RUs but also from the RUs, and that allow to bring together the FOs and the specialized technical institutions. This is why we talk about a national “system” and not a downward chain to farmers, who would be devoid of experience, knowledge and skills. Nor is it a question of undertaking actions to restructure the institutions of the actors concerned, but rather the establishment of a coordination system that allows these actors to evolve according to their comparative advantages, to cooperate, to build coherence and, ultimately, to better serve the EFs and, in so doing, the national interests of our agriculture and our countries.
The analysis of the national situations of the actors and services involved in this field of accompaniment and support shows that, for lack of coordination, it is impossible to build such a national system and that overlapping organizations, or even conflicts, exist alongside large geographic and thematic gaps. And it is unfortunately in these large voids that the majority of RUs are found. We also observe that the work of specialized public institutions often remains ineffective because they cannot reach the places where natural resources are produced and managed. Finally, in terms of efficiency and cost, these situations are far from the optimum that our countries should seek.
The program will be an instrument that will facilitate the achievement of certain objectives:
ROPPA will ask the NFPs to identify the actions of the FOs that are in line with PR1 in order to make an inventory of the actions that are in line with the farmers’ approach of accompaniment and proximity support to the RUs. A first capitalization work will be engaged on the basis of which exchanges between the NPFs and the FOs will be organized. The outline of a first action plan of the RP will be prepared.
The NPs will approach the public authorities to propose to them to carry out a common reflection on the various actors of the accompaniment and support to the RUs and on a possible setting up of a coordination and formalization mechanism of a SNAAP- RU.
At the same time, the partnership frameworks will be mobilized to identify partners interested in collaborative actions in this area. Technical and financial partners will be approached and asked to give their opinions on the first version of the action plan.
West African agricultural production systems (APS) are very diverse. This diversity is a response to the diversity of natural environments, particularly to the variation in climates that range from a desert north to an oceanic south. The APSs can be classified according to east-west bands, with two main exceptions to the climate dictate, on the one hand when there is a possibility of irrigation, on the other hand, when there is a force of attraction linked to the existence of an urban market. This presentation of the diversity of PPSs is of course very schematic, as many other factors come into play, such as relief, the social structure of human communities, etc., but on the very broad scale of West Africa, we can stop at a necessarily summary typology. The elaboration of such a typology and the identification of large APS families are necessary not only to have a contemporary geographical picture of APSs, but also to identify the agrarian history of each APS family and to understand the way in which each has reacted to past changes in the context in which it is located, and to perceive how they could be helped to evolve in order to enable them to respond to present and future changes.
Most West African farmers are in an uncomfortable situation, uncomfortable with both their old traditional models and the agro-industrial model proposed to them by most national or international consultants. Indeed, demographic, economic and climatic changes no longer allow traditional PPSs to prosper. The Sahelian APS, for example, needed a long fallow period to recover the fertility of their soils (there is mention of cycles of two years of cultivation followed by 25 years of fallow). Under demographic pressure, fallows had to be progressively shortened to the point of disappearing in many regions. In response to the crisis of traditional APS, it was proposed to West African farmers to adopt the agro-industrial model of the “green revolution”, a tropical translation of the second agricultural revolution of temperate climate countries. In West Africa, this adoption did not happen, probably because this model was not ecologically adapted, but mainly because the vast majority of West African farmers did not have the economic means to adopt all its characteristics. Moreover, this model is today, in its native lands, as in its tropical form, increasingly questioned for its economic performance, but especially for its environmental, social and cultural performance.
Caught between two unsatisfactory models, West African agriculture, like all agriculture in the world, must move forward according to other logics and other principles. Two elements appear today as keys to the emergence and strengthening of new PPSs: the conversion of an approach of adapting the environment to the needs of plants and animals with high genetic potential (what is classically described as an artificialization of the environment) to an approach where, on the contrary, we strive to adapt the plant or animal to the conditions of the environment and to take advantage of the ecological services offered by nature or obtained in PPSs by associations between crops or between livestock and crops. It is not a question of eliminating the totality of the elements constituting the two systems, it is a question, for example, of refusing the artificialization brought by the irrigation, but of trying to follow one of the agro-ecological itineraries.
To this agronomic debate has been added the now major concern of climate change. West Africa has little historical responsibility in this area, and even today, the priority is not the mitigation of its GHG emissions. Priority must be given to adapting to climate change, which is already being expressed, in particular, through damaging changes in water regimes. West African agriculture must take this change into account and adapt to it.
This second Regional Program (RP2) logically follows RP1. RP2 should be one of the main crucibles for the development of knowledge, experience and skills that are useful and necessary for the transformation of the FFs. But, this usefulness assumes that this knowledge corresponds to the different families of APS.
PR2 will necessarily have a very strong partnership dimension and, therefore, will have to be at the heart of two “partnership frameworks”: the OP-Research roundtable and the Peasant University. We propose to retain three major objectives:
The identification of the major families of West African PPSs and the analysis of the necessary changes in each of these families: This objective corresponds to two stages, one more academic, which should lead to the determination of a typology of PPSs and an analysis of the constraints, particularly ecological, that weigh on each family of PPSs, the other more operational, consisting of the organization of West African networks by major families of PPS. ROPPA, NPFs and POs could play a major role in this structuring, the aim of which is to create spaces for exchange and communication by APS family, spaces that will allow for specific support to each APS family while respecting its needs and its dynamics of evolution, and often of intensification. The emergence of an “agro-ecological revolution” implies considering all the elements of a production system and not only individual elements of these APSs, for example, the product chains alone.
The search for agro-ecological transition paths: here again, there are two axes, one more academic, concerning scientific research oriented towards the dynamics of APS evolution, the other more operational, concerning the identification of peasant initiatives that can contribute to the agro-ecological evolution of one or more APS.
The pedagogy of the agro-ecological transition of West African PPSs: thanks to the structuring of PPS networks and the contributions of scientific research and farmers’ innovations, the farmers’ university can play a major role in raising awareness and/or training technicians of POs and actors involved in PR1 (SNAAP-EF).
Given the specific character of this RP, we believe it is important, beyond the internal exchanges within the network (ROPPA, NPF, FOs), to rapidly open a debate within the framework of the FO-Research Roundtable. We do not think that it is necessary to develop new research to meet the objective of highlighting the major families of APS nor to identify the blocking points of the evolution of the APS of these different families. The partners (or a partner) of the round table could propose such a structuring to ROPPA.
The scientific partners of the round table could also share the work they are carrying out or plan to carry out by major APS families on the very broad range of topics that concern PR2: APS analysis, agro-ecology, adaptation to climate change, etc. This information could initially be addressed to the NFPs and consolidated at the regional level according to the APS families, which do not recognize national borders.
Finally, within the framework of the Peasant University, decentralized training could be envisaged in connection with training and research institutions in different countries of the region. This RP could offer an excellent opportunity to test a revitalization of the three partnership frameworks: the FO-Research roundtable, the Peasant University, and the partnership framework with technical and financial partners.
The family nature of the farm does not guarantee that all members of the family have a recognized and respected place and are able to emancipate themselves. This is too often the case for women and young people, who contribute their labor without receiving any consideration or remuneration in return. The same is sometimes true in the FOs where these same categories have difficulty in asserting their specific needs and interests.
To remedy this, ROPPA and the NPFs have set up Women’s Colleges and Youth Colleges. Some NPFs ask their colleges to take charge on behalf of the NPF of certain subjects or files that may go beyond subjects specifically concerning women or youth. This is the case, for example, in Senegal, for the “Food” dossier, namely the promotion of “local consumption”, the promotion of local products during fairs or commercial events, the promotion of regional or local culinary preparations.
At the level of the FS, in order to promote the emancipation and partial autonomy of women and youth, the FOs encourage the creation of economic activities or workshops for which women or youth are responsible. These activities often concern remunerative vegetable or animal production, with short cycles and requiring little land, or processing or trading activities. In order to do so, women and young people must be able to have a place on the farm. In other cases, women or youth group together to create activities outside the family farm. In these cases, the community must grant them access to resources, especially land if they are involved in agricultural activities.
The departure of young people from the family farm and agriculture to the cities, which poses difficult urbanization problems for cities that have difficulty offering decent living conditions to newcomers and that have few jobs to offer them. Some of these young people then embark on migration routes that have become uncertain and dangerous. We know the dramas that are played out along these trans-Saharan and trans-Mediterranean routes. Whatever the conditions, the serious question posed by the departure of young people will only be resolved if the living conditions offered and promised to them in the EF are decent. Unfortunately, we are far from being able to promise them a decent future. The experiences of regrouping young adults in large modernized farms within the framework of development poles are hardly successful. These poles, cut off from the rural world, beneficiaries of the best land and important investments, have difficulty in surviving when the usual conditions offered to family and peasant farming are imposed.
On the one hand, peasant poverty and, on the other hand, the scarcity of decent jobs outside agriculture, place the vast majority of young West Africans in a situation of uncertainty as to their future. This is one of the major issues facing our countries today. It deserves the full attention of our governments and our international partners, but also of the peasant movement and all peasant families. If peasant families do not have the means to offer their young people a decent future, there is no reason to think that the situations of decay and insecurity, already evident in some of our regions, will be resolved. We are worried and helpless.
The solution to the problem of rural exodus and migration is beyond the control of the peasant movement. The peasant movement does not have the possibility to contribute to the massive creation of jobs in or outside agriculture. The peasant movement can nevertheless try to maintain some young people by giving them a place in the EFs and in the POs and by allowing them to insert themselves in the agricultural and rural economy by creating economic activities. The same applies to women who, very often, have no autonomy and, therefore, no possibility of emancipation. We therefore propose, for women as well as for young people, but in a separate way, to :
It will be a question of starting from the already existing experiences and the strategy of insertion of the young people to question the public authorities on the question of the access of the young people and the women to the resources necessary to the creation of autonomous activities, but also to promote within the network, a campaign on the place of the women and the young people within the EF.
Finally, we would like to propose to our partners to support national programs for the creation of economic activities and entrepreneurship of youth and women.
ROPPA is already supporting FOs involved in some commodity chains that are organized or under construction in the region, such as the rice, livestock and fisheries commodity chains. Some NPFs already support FOs involved in the construction or management of inter-professions, for example, in the tomato or onion sectors. Agri-food chains are composed of several links – production, processing, distribution, catering – and at each link, several families of actors can intervene in support of the actors in the chain itself. Throughout the chain, there is a need to ensure a good match between supply and demand. Agricultural products and most foods are perishable goods.
The organization of these chains must allow for a regulation of flows, in particular to avoid shortages or excessive supply, sources of waste or storage costs. It is therefore important that professional organizations organize themselves into inter-professions. This regulatory function could be translated into contractualizations between the partners of the chain, contractualizations that allow to give visibility to the quantities and qualities of the desired products and to the prices that could be paid to suppliers. This implies a collective organization on the part of the producers, i.e. the constitution of a PO that can negotiate these conditions on behalf of the producers. This collective approach is particularly important when agricultural producers have to supply an industrial processing company or collective catering establishments, or if they want to respond to calls for proposals for institutional purchases.
In addition to this function of regulating flows and markets, interprofessions must also play a role in sharing value within these so-called value chains. Agricultural producers are all the more excluded from value-sharing mechanisms, as they are dispersed and unorganized, prices being the result of a balance of power between the players in the chain as much as the result of the free play of the market.
The collective organization of agricultural producers for each of the sectors and participation in the construction and management of inter-professions are priority tasks for the POs, the NPFs and the ROPPA. These collective organizations are decisive for the income of agricultural producers, but also for the processors of agricultural products.
ROPPA and the NPFs will ensure through this program
The creation and/or development of specialized POs for each of the agricultural commodity chains. ROPPA and the NPFs must help these specialized POs to professionalize for the tasks they must assume on behalf of the producers within the interprofessions. These tasks may vary at the margin for different products and different commodity chains, but the essential thing is to organize the grouping and even the storage of products, and the negotiation of contracts.
The creation and/or strengthening of inter-professions for all agri-food commodity chains, starting with those that concern mass production and contribute the largest share of farmers’ income.
ROPPA and the NPFs will first update the review of national experiences carried out by POs specialized in the framework of different agri-food commodities. Indeed, a first review was carried out in the framework of the capitalization process led by ROPPA (Cf. The Accra Declaration of December 6, 2015 “Supporting the valorization of the initiatives of FOs and downstream actors in value chains for the participatory and inclusive development of value chains and the promotion of territorialized food systems”).
The ROPPA will be able to initiate a new capitalization process based on the experiences identified by specialized FOs. The lessons learned from this new capitalization process will be used to feed training activities within the framework of the Peasant University, prior to the launch of a concerted action between ROPPA and the NPFs to strengthen specialized POs and support their actions within the sectors and inter-professions.
ROPPA expressed the importance it attached to this issue in the Tenkodogo Declaration: “In West Africa, family farmers, consumers, and public authorities, same fight for food sovereignty and consumption of national products”. Following this declaration, ROPPA set up the “Regional Program for the Promotion of Local Food Systems”. This issue is decisive for the future of West African agriculture and food systems. Indeed, depending on whether West African urban and rural consumers consume domestic or imported food, the food system will become either the primary engine of development or the primary factor of indebtedness for the country.
The future of agriculture, but also the economic, social and political future of the region, is at stake in this choice made by consumers. In this regional program PR5, three major battles must be fought: the battle of the valorization of remarkable products, the battle of the competitiveness of local and national products on urban and rural domestic markets, the battle of the share of local and national products in institutional purchases and in collective catering (army, schools and universities, hospitals, prisons).
This program aims to :
The PR5 could start with an action to identify experiences at the local and/or national level corresponding to the three objectives indicated above. This identification could be extended by a process of capitalization, then of exchange and communication between the actors concerned.
Such a process could make it possible to identify some key points for the pursuit of the objectives: different ways of identifying remarkable products (appellations, signs, brands, labels, etc.) depending on the legal situation and the capacity of the actors, actions and methods for promoting local or national products, communication actions aimed at consumers, procurement or public contracting procedures, etc.) The main key points identified could be the subject of comparative work or even research.
We then propose to build on existing experiences and work done to propose decentralized training within the framework of the Peasant University, and then to help POs, associations or economic actors to set up actions in these three areas.