Resources Research

Culture and systems of knowledge, cultivation and food, population and consumption

Rural institutions and food security, useful case studies

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A useful addition from FAO and IFAD, this publication describes an array of organisations and institutional for access to and help managing natural resources for small farmers. These include mediation committees for conflict resolution over land or securing land-use rights, women’s groups for reclaiming land, and forest-community based enterprises for generating income activities. The publication, ‘Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security’, outlines how a vast array of producer-organization initiatives have enabled small producers to increase their access to markets and productive assets.

From 'Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security', by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The case studies describe some of the services and resources that these institutional arrangements and new models of public-private engagement can offer to small-scale producers. They include accessing and managing natural resources; providing inputs like seeds and equipment; enabling access to markets; improving information and communication, and helping small producers to have a voice in decision-making processes.

* Farmer Field Schools developed by FAO in Asia, and subsequently in Africa, have enabled millions of small farmers to analyze their production systems; identify their risks and opportunities and test solutions, and adopt new practices that lead to improvements in their livelihoods and food security.
* West African and Indian farmer groups have helped members to obtain short-term credit through a “warehouse receipt system”. In collaboration with micro-finance institutions, they have provided storage facilities for agricultural products. The receipts are then used as guarantees to obtain short-term credit.
* In India, where a disastrous harvest can lead poor people to mortgage their lands, a women’s association has provided loans to release mortgaged land and free borrowers from dealing with money lenders.
* In Cameroon, farmers’ groups, collectors, buyers, resellers and researchers collaborated to select a new plantain variety that fetches a higher price than traditional plaintains. The new variety is also used to make specialty dishes and chips. This has led to the emergence of small groups, including dozens of women’s groups, concerned not only with the production and sale of bunches, but also with processing the plantain into chips.
* In the Gambia, the National Fisheries Post Harvest Operator Platform is a mechanism for dialogue where governments can learn about small producers’ needs while producers express their concerns and preferences.
* In Honduras, greater control over natural resources was transferred to local communities as part of the decentralization process, resulting in better land management and cropping practices. These Community Development Councils, representing rural families, participated in the Municipal Council and managed to ban slash-and-burn agriculture.

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