In partnership with several Farmers’ Organizations (FOs) in sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya) and with the French Development Agency, Fert contributes to the agricultural structuring of these countries, notably by promoting South-South exchanges.
In 2015, Fert concluded a partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD) for a multi-country program – Transfert – lasting 9 years. This program is implemented in 4 countries where Fert is active: Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Kenya. The objective: to contribute to the improvement of agricultural economies in Sub-Saharan Africa through the organisation of farmers.
A program with a transversal dimension
Beyond the support actions with each partner FO, a transversal dimension has been included with 5 thematic workshops; agricultural advisory services, information systems within the FOs, the viability of the FOs, training of farmer leaders and the professional integration of young people. In this framework, the local teams of Fert, the elected representatives and the teams of the partner FOs can exchange on common issues.
In order to create this exchange dynamic, several meetings have been organized. The first was in Madagascar in 2015.It allowed all the partners of the programme, the local teams of Fert and the leaders of the partner FOs of the different countries to get to know each other. It was followed by three other multi-country meetings in Burkina Faso (2016), France (2017) and Kenya (2019) in order to carry out field visits, to exchange on specific themes at each meeting and to strengthen internal cohesion. In addition to these regional meetings, exchanges within the thematic groups are carried out at a distance.
Exchange visits between technicians and professional leaders
The transversal dimension was also illustrated by exchange visits between FOs from different countries. 8 study trips were organized between 2018 and 2019, between FOs from different countries but also in France. These visits are great opportunities to share experiences: they create more concrete and direct relationships between the leaders of organizations. In September 2019, representatives of the FLP (Farmer Leaders Training) team and Burkinabe leaders were welcomed to Madagascar by Fifata teams to observe and understand the training practices of farmer leaders but also to share their own experience.
Webinars and experience capitalization work
These times of exchange also provide an opportunity for reflection on issues common to the FOs. It leads to capitalization notes for partner FOs and local Fert teams, but also to more concrete productions such as a advisory pack.
Recently, the health crisis has somewhat disrupted this dynamic. To overcome this difficulty, webinars on agricultural advisory were organized between April and June 2020. Bringing together teams from the FOs and Fert, as well as French agricultural leaders and elected officials, they contributed to a reflection on agricultural advisory practices and allowed a large majority of people to participate in this sharing of experiences. This moment also revealed all the interest of digital technology in such a multi-country program.
A farmer in his field is alone with the problems he encounters. Exchanging in a group allows him to find solutions more easily. Exchanges question us about our certainties and prevent us from locking ourselves into our models. Cross-visits are a source of great richness and openness to others.
The exchange with other agricultural advisors from other countries seems very interesting to us, we noticed it with the webinars organized during the lock down period, it gave us ideas of tools to implement.