New ESFIM Research Support Fund for market access

In 2016 AgriCord and Wageningen University have launched the ESFIM Research Support Fund. The fund provides strategic support with action-oriented research that empowers Farmers Organisations in developing countries. The objective of the ESFIM Research Support Fund is to strengthen the position of farmers, particularly smallholders, in resolving problems related with the improvement of their market position.

Based on calls for proposals, Farmers Organisations within the network of Agri-Agencies of AgriCord can submit draft research proposals for external research support to address problems that limit market access for smallholder farmers. The draft research proposals are  reviewed by the ESFIM Evaluation Committee. Farmers Organisations with an approved draft research proposal are requested to develop a more comprehensive and detailed final research proposal. In the stage of developing the final research proposal, Farmers Organisations receive support from Wageningen University in improving the research methodology and research questions. The completed final research proposal is submitted to the ESFIM Evaluation Committee and the AgriCord Project Committee for final approval.

The ESFIM Research Support Fund is part of the Farmer Fighting Poverty (FFP) programme which is financed by the Government of Netherlands. The general objective of this programme is to contribute to poverty reduction, strengthening the capacities and enhancing the operations of the organisations of smallholders’ farmers in developing countries.

For more information about the ESFIM Research Support Fund please email: researchsupportfund@esfim.org

Free download of the book: ESFIM experiences with farmer-led research for advocacy

  • Edited by Giel Ton and Felicity Proctor
  • Published in November 2013

flyer-book-promotion-def-no-border_Page_1In many countries, it is not the policy, as such, but the budgetary, technical and/or administrative implementation of the specific policy that falls short and needs to be adjusted to generate positive impact for smallholders. Policy instruments and institutional arrangements have to be designed and built in a technically feasible and effective way for the objective of poverty reduction and food security to be reached. And learning between countries on the pros and cons of these instruments is key in this innovation and policy design process. ESFIM’s overall objective is to generate demand-driven action research supportive to the policy activities undertaken by farmers’ organisations to strengthen the capacities of smallholder farmers in developing countries to generate remunerative cash income from markets by creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment as well as effective economic organisations and institutions.





Legal clearance of property rights to enhance acces to credit

AVA (Asociación Verde Amazónico) consists of 15 Associations and Cooperatives who represent about 6,000 cocoa and coffee producers in the San Martín region of Peru. The objective of AVA is to represent its members and provide strategic services to grassroots organisations: education and training of producers, advice on organic and sustainable production programs, commercial advice and promotion of responsible management and the conservation of the natural resources.

Most cooperatives have constructed infrastructure on lands that has no defined property status, and cannot be used as a guarantee for loans. Local and regional governments are willing to resolve this issue whenever the cooperatives prepare the legal documents.

ESFIM funded the work of (a team of) specialised lawyers who investigated the legal status of the infrastructure with the board of the cooperative. In each of the member cooperatives of AVA, they compiled a folder with all documents required and assisted the board to start the legal clearance process. This resulted in the description of 32 plots in eight cooperatives that had problems. Based on this analysis, in 2018, AVA started the administrative process of legalization of the infrastructure and land in eight of these cooperatives.

In preparation for face-to-face meetings of the board with the officials that decide on property legalization, and supported by Agriterra, AVA used the ESFIM research findings to compile a lobby document in which they explain the importance of the legalization process and the economic benefits for the sector. The regional authorities reacted positively to this lobby, and started a process to accelerate the legalization of the plots and infrastructure that they had supported in earlier projects.

This structured process of successful, pro-active lobbying with an evidence-based policy document (FACT methodology) is currently presented in different platforms (unions, municipalities, sector workshops) as an example to be replicated by other farmer organisations in their specific areas of advocacy.


Understanding young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain in Uganda

National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) was established in 1995 and has 175 members that altogether represent 170,000 households in Uganda. NUCAFE represents the interests of coffee farmers in Uganda and aims at farmer empowerment by focusing on social development and business development. The Government of Uganda regards coffee as a strategic commodity and has the ambition to produce 20 million bags of coffee in 2020. Youth unemployment in Uganda is high with 64%. Involvement of youth in the coffee sector is regarded as important to achieve the ambitions of the Ugandan Government.

In the first round of research supported by ESFIM, NUCAFE carried out a survey with 312 people to understand young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain in Uganda. The survey revealed interesting results, such as the fact that 90% of those participating in the coffee value chain were involved in production, and that the main reason for their engagement in coffee farming was their belief that there is money to be made in coffee farming. However, the research found that young people involved in coffee production face several challenges. The three main challenges faced are lack of access to land and credit, and drought. A positive relationship was found between membership of a coffee association and income generated from coffee production, i.e. the higher the income from coffee, the more likely people are organised within an association.

The initial results provide some interesting insights, but lead as well to several in-depth questions such as: “Under what conditions are young people able to (further) engage in the coffee value chain?”; “Under what conditions can they be (more) successful?”; “In what ways do young people think that the major challenges of access to land and credit, and drought, be overcome?”; and “What may explain the positive relation of coffee association membership and income generated from coffee farming?”. Issues such as gender participation in the coffee value chain and young people’s preferred livelihood choices will also be explored. Essentially, while the first round of the research provided an interesting glimpse into “what” is happening with young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain, the second round of research supported by ESFIM will seek to understand “why” young people are engaging in the coffee sector the way they are, and “how” they feel that engagement and success can be increased. These questions will be explored using primarily qualitative methods, i.e. interviews and focus-group discussions, and possibly participatory methods as well. A combination of these research findings, will lead to an in-depth understanding of young people’s engagement with the coffee value chain and to recommendations for policy makers and practitioners in this field.


Analysis of the coffee market and supply chain in Indonesia

Serikat Paguyuban Petani Qaryah Thayyibah (SPPQT) is an Indonesian cooperative established in 1999 with the aim to improve the situation of the farmers in Central Java. SSPQT currently represents approximately 18,000 members.

Coffee production is an important source of income for many farmers in this region. Over 8,000 farmers from 13 districts in Central Java supply approximately 4 tons of coffee annually. However, the coffee producers sell their coffee to middlemen who define the (relatively low) coffee price. Farmers are not capacitated to access the market directly and perceive a power misbalance. In addition, they do not add value to their coffee. No sorting or grading is done and knowledge of the market and consumer demands is lacking.

SPPQT does currently not play an active role in supporting its coffee farmer members and in collective marketing. It lacks up to date knowledge on the coffee value chain its members are part of. They would like to explore the possibilities for a viable business plan for collective marketing, meeting the demand of the consumers and for improving the livelihoods of the farmers by providing them with more expertise, skills and, therefore,power. To provide SPPQT and its members with a clear understanding of the coffee value chain a profound value chain analysis is done, incorporating the current position of the farmers, the consumer demands and the potential role of SPPQT in supporting its members and in defining a strategy to improve the livelihoods of the coffee producers in the region.



Market and value chain analysis of potato in Nepal

The District Agriculture Cooperative Federation (DACF) in Makawanpur was established in 2010 and represents 17,000 household members in Nepal via a number of member cooperatives.

Potato is one of the main crops in this vegetable production area and a major part is produced for the market. The cooperatives do not have their own collection centre and cooperative marketing shop. Besides, there are no storage facilities at the farm or at the community level and no collective marketing system is in place. Therefore, members are forced to sell individually through middlemen who determine the agreements, among which the potato market price. The members are unaware of market prices and demand of customers. Currently, they are not able to have a viable collective marketing strategy, which is what is needed to face these challenges. The cooperatives could play an important lead role in improving the position of the potato farmer members. Via the ESFIM project, a profound value chain analysis on the potato production and marketing is conducted. Outcomes will be an evidence-based understanding of the whole chain and flow of products including power issues and relevant input for the strategy of the cooperatives and the supporting role of DACF.


Improved economic information

The national Federation of Agricultural Producers of Burkina Faso (FEPA/B) constitutes of 37 provincial unions, representing a total of 241,261 group members in 6,133 base groups (a little over 50% of them women). FEPA/B aims to reinforce the economic services for its members and has created two sectoral unions, one for “fruits and vegetables”, the other for “dry cereals”. It runs programmes on business advisory services for family farms, collective purchase of inputs and group marketing of agricultural products (including warehousing).

FEPA/B has access to a variety of economic data about markets, prices, production, farm economics. However, it experiences difficulties in organising this variety of data in an accessible way and in turning it into useful information. FEPA/B now wants to better exploit its data to improve its economic services to members and to strengthen its economic advocacy. Therefore, the research project will first assess the current use of data and information within FEPA/B. Subsequently, it will propose tools for data processing and presentation that FEPA/B can use for its services to members and for its economic advocacy.


Assessment of the market potential for local agriculture products in the Kukes region, to strengthen the market position of smallholder farmers

ADAD Malore is a Producers’ Organization focused on the mountainous areas of Albania, established in 1996. ADAD Malore has 600 members, and represents about 7,000 households. The PO focuses on capacity building including technical assistance and trainings, project support, consultation with governments and lobbying.

The Kukes region is known for several local products such as goat and sheep meat, plums and blueberries. The majority of farms in the Kukes region are small-scale, with limited production volumes. Collective action is limited due to a stigma towards cooperatives, low awareness on fruitful ways of cooperation and high barriers of communication between villages in the region. Identification of the market potential and promotion of these products is necessary to enhance the image and association with the Kukes region in the perception of consumers. With the support from ESFIM, ADAD Malore aims to assess the market potentials for particular agricultural products in the Kukes region, in order to strengthen the market position of smallholders. The outcomes will be used to provide problem-solving recommendations for the members of ADAD Malore and producers groups. The outputs of the research will be used to develop a participatory (collaborative) strategy. The strategy will aim at designing steps to enhance Kukes farmer’s access to the market but also to create an environment to discuss policy related issues. The strategy will be developed in collaboration with the actors along the value chain as well as representative of policy makers. Each step of the research aims at increasing farmers’ knowledge on the value chain, actors involved as well as different market potential and requirements.

The implementation of the project started mid-2016, and is expected to be finalized early 2017.