Critical support services for farmers - policy-making, finance and ICTs

The capacity of farmers’ organisations must be strengthened if they are to stand a real chance of seizing opportunities for engagement in value chains and in issues that affect their future. A two-day training workshop, held as part of the Caribbean and Pacific Agri-Food Forum, is offering training in policy advocacy, research and leadership. The workshop is one of a package of sessions aimed at offering behind-the-scenes support to farmers as they seek to play a more prominent role in the agri-food sector.

Participants from across the Caribbean and the Pacific have been learning how to understand the nature, scope and dynamics of public policy development and decision-making. During the Policy Advocacy Workshop for Caribbean and Pacific Farmer’s Leaders, they have been shown how to understand the advocacy planning process and have received support in improving their policy analysis, engagement, advocacy, public administration and strategic communications skills.

"Just as important as the actors and their relationships in a value chain is the relevant context and environment in which where they operate," said Juan Cheaz, Senior Programme Coordinator for Agricultural Policy and Value Chains at CTA. "The enabling environment in a value chain is composed of services, of which business development services are of particular importance. There are also policies - formal and informal - ideas, beliefs, power relations and cultural elements that affect the behaviour and performance of value chain actors.

"The Policy Advocacy Workshop for Caribbean and Pacific Farmer's Leaders aims to contribute to participants' understanding of such factors," he added. "And to give them the tools needed to understand policy process and engage in advocacy and negotiations with relevant actors, be they policy or decision-makers, private sector companies, competitors or other advocacy partners."

Finance and fisheries

Another workshop, this time on access to finance, has been offering advice and suggestions on how value chain actors can obtain credit facilities for their agribusiness operations. Experts drawn from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and the USA have explored issues such as using the strength of value chains to create a virtuous cycle of agrifinance, post-harvest finance and applying value chain financing to agritourism. Participants have included a mix of bankers, farmers and other value chain actors from the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

Meanwhile, focusing on fisheries, a practical workshop has been investigating how ICTs can be used to benefit this sector and how successful initiatives can be rolled out. ICT for Fisheries: Towards Replicating and Scaling Up, has been working to analyse ICT needs in the small-scale fisheries sector, assess challenges and opportunities, develop a road map for the ICT4Fisheries lifecycle in the participants' contexts and examine existing options, such as the open source mFisheries suite of web and mobile applications. Sustainability and resilience are key issues for all ICT4Fisheries initiatives being discussed at the workshop. Participants include fisherfolk from across African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions, as well as ICT service providers, fisheries policy and decision-makers and researchers in the areas of ICTs and fisheries.

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