Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) Project

Purpose of the project: The key and indispensable factor for the protection and enhancement of smallholder agricultural sector is the existence of strong farmer organizations (FBOs) that are able, motivated and sufficiently independent to effectively represent farmers’ interests. The challenges for smallholder farmers to enter the cash economy are numerous and extremely difficult to master them as individuals. The purpose of Farmer Based Organizations Project is to support the emergence of strong and viable FBOs and broaden farmers’ economic benefits along agricultural value chains. Funding for the project started in 2013 and is supposed to end in 2017.

Baseline survey: The baseline survey conducted prior to the inception of the project showed that most of the FBOs in the four countries do not sufficiently help members to improve their yields and incomes. Very few have access to market and market information, better storage and processing facilities. The quality of their produce has also been a serious issue. 

The majority of members and leaders had limited capacity to implement by laws and effectively run their organizations. They have low capacity to manage and govern well-functioning enterprises. Since FBO members did not enjoy economic benefits and incentives from their organizations, the level of membership was very low.


Interventions: The following are major intervention areas of the project:


1. Establishment of Multi Actors Value Chain Platforms (MAVCP)


Farmer Based Organization (FBOs) strengthening and scaling up of activities cannot not be achieved with actors along the value chain operating in fragmentation with each other. The objectives of the Multi Actors Value Chain Platform are therefore:

 To allow coordinated operations among the value chain actors

 To allow actors engage in a market driven activities

 To ease ways of communicating among actors

 To fully utilize activities along the value chain


2. Capacity building


Capacity building activities constitute the core of the efforts put in place during the project cycle (2013-2017) to redress and improve upon the overall poor organizational, managerial and technical competencies of members as well as leaders of FBOs in the four countries. Various and proactive training programs were conducted in the following areas;

 Organizational management

 Group dynamics

 Governance and conflict resolution

 Enterprise management

 Entrepreneurship training

 Accounting and financial management

 Record keeping

 Collective marketing

 Business plan development

 Technical capacity training (production and processing) on commodity value chains

 Gender issues in FBOs

 Basic computer skills


As part of the training, the project has also conducted:

 Strengthening networking activities between actors

 Look and learn exchange visits to allow members from various locations to share experiences


The trainings are also conducted in local languages and in the pictorial form to ensure effective learning and understanding by farmers. The level of illiteracy among farmers is very high. In order to address this issue, the project also organized and conducted literacy training sessions for FBO members. Efforts were made by the project to improve upon the operational facilities in terms of equipment like appropriate post-harvest technologies, storage facilities, etc.


The project has established market linkages for FBO members. Farmers therefore are linked to potential buyers through contractual agreement. For example, World Food Program contracted FBOs in Mali for cowpea and sesame because their produce satisfied WFP quality standards and requirements. Similarly, in Uganda, FBOs were contracted to supply high quality processed cassava flour food factories.


    3.  Targets and Achievements:


  • Impact: 


    It was observed that positive economic changes in the livelihoods of FBO members after they were engaged in the transformation process by the project. Equally, FBOs as organizations have also positively changed in their way of doing business. Notable was the change in rural incomes. For example, one FBO in Ethiopia dealing with vegetables experienced the changes shown in the below table.


    The training in post-harvest handling technologies and techniques resulted in improved quality of farm produce which meet market requirements and standards. This translated into better access to market thereby access to credit as well. FBOs and their members became credit worthy in the view of the banks.


    The project has played an important role in strengthening group savings and ensuring the management of those funds. Rules for borrowing, interest rate, repayment period, penalties for defaulters, etc. are set and applied to all. Members are enjoying this facility.


    The project has helped to notably improve the overall managerial capacity, technical skills and knowledge of FBOs and their members. The gradual transparency inculcated by the project has yielded an increased level of membership. In some cases, the membership increased by 50%. Women’s participation has improved with some FBOs solely owned and managed by groups of women.


    As FBOs expand their businesses, the move creates rural jobs for youth in administration, finance and technical (services providers). In conclusion, one can anticipate more impacts to take place in the coming years because some outcomes take longer to become apparent.

Voices from the Field

  • Empowering Groups with Special Needs in Ethiopia. More
  • SAFE program helping communities engage in value-chain oriented, improved agricultural practices. More
  • “SAFE`s part in my life has been immense”, Coulibaly K. Mallé. More
  • “No better time than now to thank SAFE”, Mesele Yilma, More
  • “When knowledge empowers you, challenges are not problems”, Patience Kantomah, SAFE mid-career student at Bayero University, Nigeria.More
  • "My dream to educate my children has come true", George Mutebe, Uganda.
  • “My thanks are enormous for Sasakawa`s intervention”, Misaye Mitiku, Ethiopia. More
  • “The reason why our cooperative is a primary model cooperative is because of Sasakawa`s intervention”, Tike Fekade, Ethiopia. More
  • “We realized crop failure is farmers’ failure”, Muhammmad Yaro, Nigeria. More

Vision 2020

Effective extension delivery systems in Sub-Saharan Africa that are based on farmer needs and demands along the entire agricultural value chain, with a special focus on smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.


SAFE Mission

Strengthening agricultural education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to provide demand driven, value chain oriented, training for mid-career agricultural advisory workers.


Read More ....


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