Governance and policy environment
An encouraging policy environment and an enabling regulatory environment drive success. Several countries express, via their declared policies, their desire to share control over RAS with POs, either through joint agencies (relatively autonomous and collegial structures, representing both the state and non-state actors), as in Niger or Guinea, or through a scheme of progressive delegation by the state to POs, as in Benin and Burkina Faso. Recognising the need to further adapt RAS to producer needs, policy-makers often emphasise that control should be demand-driven. The control of RAS also raises the issue of the accreditation of service providers and quality control of services.
Strengths and challenges for POs involved in RAS
Demand side: developing demand-driven services
- Capacity to identify and synthesise needs and solutions for farmers.
- Capacity to participate in agricultural policy processes that contribute to the monitoring and evaluation of RAS.
- Willingness to be self-sustaining and efforts for gradual development.
- Involving members in the production and marketing of a commodity.
- Promoting better understanding among farmers of the role of POs in demand-driven RAS.
- Developing appropriate data collection systems for producers’ contexts, and capacities to contribute to learning within producer groups.
- Reinforcing social capital within and between communities in order to avoid superficial participation of members.
- Ensuring honest and efficient leadership.
- Developing capacity to respond to partners other than their members.
Supply side: providing RAS
- Flexibility to engage with various actors (nongovernment organisations (NGOs), value chain actors, etc.).
- Ability to facilitate peer learning between members and organisations.
- Capacity to stimulate the provision of unconditional, unbiased advice with impact on members’ livelihoods.
- Cost-effective as can mobilise farmer-extension workers and usually involved in technical topics that do not require a high level of qualification and training.
- Homogeneity of client group means they have shared objectives and needs.
- Good conditions for diffusion of new techniques (organised networks of farmers that facilitate diffusion).
- Developing structures such as constitutions, manuals of procedure, and strategic plans in order to build accountability.
- Ensuring transparent information provision about the actions of the leaders of PO.
- Building poor people’s capacity to challenge exclusion, especially through the promotion of their rights regarding information and knowledge provision.
- Strengthening PO capacities for good governance, organisational management, and federal-level coordination.
- Intensifying partnerships with other actors in the agricultural innovation system.