In implementing the IFAD-FGN Agricultural Value Chain Development Programme, an identified entry point is the organized farmers’ groups in the six focal states. In order to establish the current baseline of the status, performance and maturity of these farmers groups, a mapping/study was conducted by an Oxfam-NANTS partnership commissioned by IFAD.
Interaction with the grassroots farmers’ organizations was carried out through extensive interviews of the various groups organized around rice and cassava production, processing and marketing in the focal local governments of the six states. Data on various parameters of maturity, productivity and other activities along the value chains were obtained and various aspects of their operations were investigated in order to establish a baseline and determine the areas of possible interventions to strengthen the capacity of the groups to deliver value added services to their members which in turn, enhances the earnings of the small holder farmers within the value chains.
An inventory of farmers’ cooperatives and groups in the six states was compiled from various sources and authenticated on the field by examining groups that are currently active in the commodity value chains (Rice and Cassava). Existing agricultural programmes in the states (government and development partners) were involved in determining the level of activities of the various mobilized farmer groups in the six states. The locations, contacts, membership strengths etc. are some attributes documented in the inventory.
Results from the analysis of data obtained from groups on the field show varying levels of maturity of groups in relation to various parameters considered including governance, operations, productivity and value addition. While majority score very high on governance related issues, some scored low on management related elements. Operationally, a good account was given of high frequency of meetings and the planning level was generally fair. However, the quality of the planning process and content was not investigated.
On interaction with apex agricultural groups, most groups had indicated that they do not belong to apex bodies which raised the question of how do the apex bodies mobilize members outside of the grassroots that most claim to represent. Several other attributes of the farmers groups were investigated including sources of funding, levels of income as well as types of assistance received in the past. The current levels of the operations of these groups with regard to these attributes are indicative of any developing country where capacity constraints are rife.
The study concludes with a SWOT analysis of the various groups on the basis of findings and recommendations on the possible types of intervention to build institutional capacity were made to IFAD. Some of the recommendations include capacity building based on specific needs assessment, incentivizing the participation of youth groups, encouraging the mobilization of women groups and the delivery of technical assistance through organized grassroots NGOs and CBOs for effective participation of the more relevant farmer groups in the focal value chains.