The Costa Rican context is characterized by an increasing competition with other countries due to regional and international economic integration. Small farmers, however,, still face several constraints in marketing their products. Costa Rica is enjoying political stability and a developed institutional framework as well as a well developed framework of local and national representative FOs. Small farmer FO’s, however, ,are facing difficulties to really define a common agenda and negotiate with the government to create a real conducive institutional environment for small farmers access to markets. Organized by the rural women organization CMC in collaboration with other FOs representative of an existing collaborative platform, the ESFIM national workshop enabled the various stakeholders (national and regional FOs, technical departments from the ministries) to analyse the current situation on the specific issue of small farmers access to market. The identified issues during the workshop pertained to production costs, extension, legislation regarding (inter)national trade and market regulation and finance. FO’s voiced the necessity deepen the analysis on these issues by its application on a limited number fo specific commodities/value chains in order to be better equipped with evidence and pro-active proposals when they try to influence the institutional environment related to smallholder marketing.
ESFIM-Costa Rica Policy Issues
In Costa Rica, the ESFIM partner is the NFO CMC (Coordinadora Mujeres Campesina), a rural women organisation. In 2010, the CMC had identified two research themes as a basis for the advocacy strategies. These included:
1) assessing the market information system for small farmers and
2) analysing constraints and successful initiatives to facilitate market access for small holders, including export markets.
Early 2011, the specific terms of references were identified for the studies and the implementation started. The first study results on the market information system were presented to the representatives of CMC and leaders of other farmers organizations such as MNC, ANAMAR). This resulted in a selection of main problems and ideas of solutions, which were drafted and validated in the ESFIM workshop with a broader platform of CMC representatives and members. The second study on restrictions related to access of export market has been conducted as well.
Together with the preliminary analysis of these two commissioned studies, CMC gathered and analysed information on two related laws: 1) law of good and real properties and 2) the reform of the fiscal law. For both, CMC analysed the consequences and legislative constraints for small holders’ market access. The law on goods and real properties is of large influence for farmers, because it may raise actual land tax paid by farmers, which may as a consequence reduce competitiveness of small farmers. The fiscal law may affect farmers’ incomes negatively, as the tax on farm inputs such as water, electricity, gasoline will be higher.
At the same time, CMC teams up with UPANACIONAL, another NFO which leads and coordinates more farmer organisations in a platform to discuss on the reform of the fiscal law. The reform is currently discussed in the National Assembly and since this fiscal reform process is global, the voice of small holders is very limited. UPANACIONAL, together with the platform partners such as CMC, develop an active lobby strategy. This has resulted into a regular forum with the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss with a large panel of POs representatives the current policies.
Accordingly, CMC has organised a workshop in October 2011 with members and representatives to draft a strategy to influence political decision making to better enable small farmers’ access to markets. The strategies apply for the sectors livestock, vegetables and coarse grains. To feed this sectorial initiatives in an integrated advocacy effort together with other NFOs, like MNC and UPANACIONAL, it developed a more focussed advocacy plan to elaborate a proposal for Law on Food Sovereignty an Food Security. This plan was has been approved as ESFIM action plan in 2012.
CMC works strategically on strengthening relations with policy makers and decision makers. They invited sector policy representatives in the workshops. However, the mobilisation of key actors of the policy process remains a challenge. Raising lessons from this meeting, CMC prepares an active strategy to have follow-up meetings with these representatives, especially with deputes in charge of agriculture affairs commission in the National Assembly, as well as specific inter-professional bodies of the sectors and civil servants of ministries.
Pour effectuer l’analyse institutionnelle, des chercheurs locaux seront recrutés. Ceux-ci définiront le cadre juridique pour élaborer des Règlements institutionnels novateurs. Les règles du marché en vigueur pour le café feront l’objet d’une attention particulière comme la possibilité d’appliquer ces règles à d’autres produits. On va également entreprendre une étude pour définir les normes de qualité des produits destinés au marché intérieur à travers les normes privées et publiques que les petits producteurs soient capables de suivre. Des ateliers pour diffuser aux OP les résultats de la recherche seront organisés. L’AGRINATURA offre un appui aux chercheurs locaux en donnant l’accès à des expériences internationales liées à l’établissement de normes de qualité susceptibles d’être respectées et à un système de contrôle de la qualité pour la production agricole. L’AGRINATURA offre également aux OP, à l’occasion d’un autre atelier de formation, un conseil stratégique pour leur permettre de répliquer aux responsables des politiques pendant les négociations.