In Madagascar, Fert supports Fifata and its partner organizations in the development of services to farmers. In order to ensure services are provided in the long term, farmers organizations (FOs) are supported in their reflections on the economic viability of the services.

Although FOs are generally making rapid progress in the technical mastery of their services, the long-term financing of services is an important and delicate issue. In 2020, Fifata’s Farmers’ Leaders Training (FLT) unit capitalised on several years of practice in supporting local and regional FOs on economic viability.

Several lessons have been learned from these experiences

  • It is often difficult to discuss the economic viability of services and FOs with chairmens, yet this is one of the important conditions for ensuring their sustainability.

  • The support requires a method, in different forms and over time, to adapt to the participants: awareness via adapted pedagogical supports, training, advisory services…

  • Even if one analyses in particular a service or an economic analysis, it is important not to lose sight of the vision of the FO and to think about the complementarity between services (some services may be expensive but indispensable and be financed by more economical services).

  • The conviction of leaders to develop and sustain services over time is essential, so it is important that they can be supported on these issues of sustainability.

  • The support must satisfy a clear request from the FO. FOs that have made progress on these viability issues generally inspire others to call for support.

“When the FO really knows where they want to go, it’s easier for me to find out how to support them”

  • Talking about economic and financial issues with young FOs is often delicate, it is recommended to start the process with animations on technical and/or organisational viability.

  • In Madagascar, agricultural advisors who wished to do so were trained to support leaders. This allowed them to consolidate the chairmens in their vision and facilitated their work in supporting the sustainability of services and FOs.

  • The pedagogical dimension of the support is important: to build the participants’ trust, to involve the good people in the reflexions, to explain the process and the objective, to transmit the tools to the participants to enable them to appropriate them and to make them evolve…

  • Anticipate the availability of people and the cost of meeting in order to see the exercise through and not stop halfway.

  • The facilitator must provide an external vision and have a good grasp of the subject (facilitation tools, economic analyses for the analysis by service and/or for the whole FO) and respect the confidentiality of information.

Concrete results: this work has enabled several FOs to be supported in their strategic reflections.

The Fimpiama regional value chain union

This union, located in the High Matsiatra region, had solicited FLP’s support in 2016 for the development of its strategy. In 2020, this work was renewed by analysing the costs/benefits to the members of each union service (vaccination of chickens, chick production, support for young farmers, etc.) and by deciding on the resources to be allocated to each service: a step towards better economic viability!

The Fifatam regional FO

Located in the Amoron’i Mania region, this FO was supported in the reading of its history (the FO yesterday), then through a schema spider the usefulness of each service to the members and the related costs were analysed. These sessions gave elements to chairmens and technicians to discuss and organise the next steps. For Fifatam, it led concretely to a review of the sale prices of vaccines and the distribution of technicians’ working time.

Through the support sessions of several communal value chain unions, FLP has observed the challenge to work in proximity: “the support and management of services is easier at the local level”, especially to convince farmers to participate financially in the concrete services offered to them.