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Reseaux des organisations paysannes et des producteurs d'Afrique de l'Ouest

The network of Peasant organizations and Producers in West Africa (ROPPA) was officially founded on July 2000 during a meeting in Cotonou that gathered about a hundred farmers representatives appointed by their respective organizations.

The network gathers organizations or consensus executives coming from 10 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo). This group is not closed, and the middle course ambition is to host farmer organizations from all the ECOWAS countries, that represent the real West Africa.

The social-economic context that determines the family farmers and organizations activities has been characterized since 1998 by three major elements that have motivated and mobilized a lot of farmer leaders from West Africa to create and make the ROPPA work:

The sub-regional integration: the creation of a space common to the economic, social and institutional plans made by the West African economic and monetary union (UEMOA) is today a more and more tangible reality. In fact, a harmonisation of the trade with the Common External Tariff, with OHADA (the organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa) on the legal plan, and at the development policies level including also the preparation for an Agricultural Policy for the UEMOA make the under-regional level a place where strategic decisions, that have effects on our activities and our future are made.

Decentralization: at the West African countries level, comes an approach that gives more and more fundamental responsibility to the territorial levels. Such an option asserts the theoretical will to fundamentally involve the actors and requires them to have new attitudes and abilities.

Globalization: which pushes the economical activity to a global market, forces producers to enter into competition: firstly on national markets, towards new actors (which are rarely the Northern Professional agricultural organizations) while the conditions of production and putting those products on the markets are totally unequal.

It is absolutely necessary for the ROPPA to have the possibility to rely on powerful farmers organizations or on national consensus executives able to have a dialogue with their respective States. On this front, all countries are not in the same case: some governments allow more easily the democratic game and the political life necessary to the development of farmer organizations than other ones. One of ROPPA priorities is also, for the three coming years, to reinforce, thanks to exchanges, research journeys and meetings, farmers organizations and consensus executives in countries where they are still weak.

Eventually, it is essential to put the farmer family forward as basis of the future prospects that Peasant organizations have on agriculture and the rural world. For the ROPPA farmers organizations, the rural family is the cornerstone of land societies in African countries. The main part of these actions and the policies that wanted to back agriculture have always ignored that. The ROPPA wishes to promote the improvement of the rural families working conditions. Working conditions not limited to the agricultural activity.