From 15 to 18 November, in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, was held the second edition of the Regional Farmers’ Forum in conjunction with the 12th Regional Implementation Workshop for IFAD-supported projects in West and Central Africa (WCA).
Hosted in Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, this regional event welcomed about 200 participants from 23 countries of the region. The Regional Farmers’ Forum was sponsored by Kobenan Adjoumani Kouassi, Minister of State, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, while the Regional Implementation Workshop was opened by His Excellency Mr Adama Coulibaly, Minister of Economy and Finance of Cote d’Ivoire.
After almost three years of COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing, remote missions and online webinars, there was a bustling excitement in the air as participants were eager to meet, share experiences, learn from each other. At the centre stage of these two related events was the partnership between farmers’ organizations (FOs) and IFAD-funded projects, Government in WCA and how to further improve it . It was also an opportunity to discuss several subtopics that are instrumental to improve WCA portfolio’s performance, namely sustainability, efficiency, policy engagement, and government performance.
The farmers’ organizations also very much welcomed the opportunity the event gave them to engage into thematic discussions with IFAD projects and teams as well as governments’ representatives on key areas such as sustaining economic value chain infrastructures after projects’ closure, implementing citizens’ engagement, accessing green climate financing, fostering youth leadership, and moving forward the UN Decade of Family Farming agenda in the region.
The event was closed with the reading by a young woman from the League of Peasant Women’s Organizations of Congo (LOFEPACO), North Kivu, of the Declaration of Grand-Bassam, joint statement of the recommendations that should guide the next 4 years’ action of IFAD, FOs and Governments in our region.
Key lessons learned and Way forward
The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The synergy of joint organization of Regional Farmers’ Forum and Regional Implementation Workshop contributes to enhance the quality of the deliberations and knowledge exchange planned during each individual event. Of course, budget constraints did not allow us to have as many FO representatives and project staff participate, but the multi-stakeholder conversations that happened during the event were the key of its success. In 2022, WCA has been the only region who managed to organise both events jointly. Given that Reginal Farmers Organizations, and Regional implementation workshop mobilized the same key strategic stakeholders, IFAD Senior management may considerer going forward to institutionalise the joint organization of the Regional FAFO and RIW around the globe.
IFAD-FO partnership in WCA is growing strong. From the first regional Farmers’ Forum held with the WCA RIW in Nouakchott in 2018, to the Grand-Bassam 2022 edition, it was striking to observe the improved maturity in the collaboration between IFAD, projects and government counterparts and the FO representatives in the room, despite the COVID-context and the high turnover of IFAD staff in the region; this is reflected both in the Assessment of the IFAD-FO partnership that was presented in introduction of the FAFO day and in the quality of the country action plans that were designed during the event by the multi-stakeholder country teams. However, better efforts need to be made by FOs and IFAD to follow-up on the commitments of the Grand-Bassam Forum, and one interesting modality is to push for country FAFOs organized with IFAD’s support within the next 4 years.
Space to foster regional partnerships. As part of the decentralization of IFAD and the FAFO process, it becomes obvious to engage in cross-border strategic issues. The regional consultations held during the Event between IFAD WCA and representatives of regional Farmers’ organizations –ROPPA, PROPAC, APESS and RBM, was a good opportunity to better identify priority areas of policy engagement and investments at the regional level. Thematic priorities that emerge include pastoralism, rice and dairy value chain development, and agroecology. To support knowledge management and policy engagements, FO would welcome partnership in data collection systems from the family farms, inclusive of fisheries and livestock.
Growing demand for space to share Knowledge in the region. The “Knowledge Fair Session” provided a well appreciated space to showcase selected results, innovations, and products! However, once the event is over there is general feeling that IFAD-funded projects and FO were eager for more time and space to exchange experiences and good practices! This is calling for more investment in knowledge management and learning routes to enhance exchanges within the region on how FOs and projects collaborate, on innovative practices and best experiences our WCA projects.
Click here to see the presentation: Partnership between FOs and IFAD in West and Central Africa