Research for Advocacy

In 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.

At the start, in 2008-2009, the ESFIM programme organised a round of participatory national workshops with farmer organisations and other stakeholders in the prioritised countries to identify issues and policies that would improve market access of smallholders, and develop an advocacy agenda to influence related policies and institutions. The smallholder farmer organisations involved in these collaborative research partnerships were selected by IFAP, based on their assessment of the quality and smallholder focus of the membership organisations, their ability to lead the process in the country and their commitment and previous experience to engage in advocacy for pro-poor policy development. Based on the national advocacy priorities, proposal for research support were developed by each NFO, supported by researchers from WUR, NRI and CIRAD (members of AGRINATURA).

In 2010-2013, with funding from IFAD and the Dutch Government, based on these prioritised and articulated research-for-advocacy needs, a process of collaborative research started both at IFAP-level (ESFIM Comparative research) and in each of the countries (ESFIM Collaborative research). The collaboration included local researchers, contracted by the farmer organisations, and research support from the European research institutes of AGRINATURA.

The collaborative researches below have been supported.

COUNTRY – NFO THEMATIC FOCUS Research information
Benin – FUPRO Maize sector policy; Value chain development Preparing the ground for value chain links and sector policies
Bolivia – CIOEC Preferential policies for collective marketing Successful advocacy for legal recognition of the sector
Costa Rica – CMC Farmers’ markets; Food sovereignty legislation Women take-up a role in the national advocacy platform
India FFA Innovative market linkages; collective marketing Collaborative research needs more structure than just personal charisma
Kenya – KENFAP Input vouchers; Warehouse Receipt System In-house research capacity to monitor government policy
Madagascar – CPM Rural service provisioning Rearticulating farmer groups in a weak state
Malawi – NASFAM Seed supply; Market information system Ownership of the research process influences its use in advocacy
Peru – JNC Taxation of cooperatives; Government procurement Coffee cooperatives support a policy platform
Philippines – FFF Electronic Commodity Trade Towards a smallholder-inclusive Agricultural Commodity Exchange
Uganda – UNFFE NAADS rural advisory system Grassroots consultations to refine the national agricultural advisory services
Uruguay – CAF Cooperatives in national innovation policy Cooperatives discover their role in innovation
South Africa – Agri SA Farmer mobilisation for collective action and business partnerships between farmers and agri business Collective marketing of durable grains and fresh produce

Comparative research on four themes

Based on the assessment of research priorities and research proposals from the collaborative research phase, ESFIM identified a set overarching issues that will be addressed transversely.

Comparative Research themes