The Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP) Knowledge Management event by PAFO: Sharing the knowledge that makes us stronger

The Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP) Knowledge Management event by PAFO: Sharing the knowledge that makes us stronger

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The Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP) knowledge management event organized and hosted by the Pan African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO), a key partner of the FO4ACP Program, held in Kigali, Rwanda from May 16th to 28th, 2023. The event took place about one year after the mid-term review of the program to take stock of what was done and share the experiences and good and promising practices among the farmers’ organizations involved in the program. The theme was “Sharing the knowledge that makes us stronger”. The main objective was to exchange good and promising practices among the FO4ACP implementing partners, to learn how others have improved the effectiveness and quality of their work, as well as opportunities for networking by linking ideas.

Ninety-three participants, including 30 women and 31 youth, attended the event in person, while 180 participants joined online. Participants came from around the world, including FO4ACP partners and friends, PAFO partners, and other essential stakeholders. The event saw representation from 34 countries and was officially opened by a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda. The event lasted for two and a half days. It featured discussions on various topics in different formats, such as panel discussions, round tables, PowerPoint presentations, workshops and an interactive marketplace.

The event was a buzzing, interactive and collaborative workspace with lively discussions and practical demonstrations that focused on six key thematic areas identified during the mid-term review and discussions with the farmers’ organizations involved in the program: (i) Access to finance; (ii) Services to members and business plans and their implementation; (iii) Climate change and resilience, (iv) agroecology; (v) Policy Engagement and Advocacy, including data collection for informed decisions and (vi) Inclusive approaches in FO4ACP activities.

A total of 41 case studies were part of the event, with 29 being presented or discussed during the sessions and 12 showcased in the marketplace.

The opening session of the FO4ACP KM event featured welcoming remarks from PAFO President Mr Kolyang Palebele. In his speech, Mr Palebele highlighted PAFO’s mission to promote agriculture development in Africa amidst complex and rapidly changing challenges associated with the sector. He noted that the FO4ACP program has strengthened farmers’ organizations and enabled farmers to access resources, influence policies and promote sustainable agriculture. The KM event, he said, would allow FOs across the globe to exchange and capitalize on knowledge, experiences and good practices. Sharing knowledge makes us all stronger, he added.

FO4ACP financial partners, including Ms Yvonne Chileshe from the OACPS, also made remarks, reiterating the importance of KM as it provides participants with an opportunity to exchange and share experiences. She informed that almost 60% of exports by OACP member states are in commodities, hence the OACP’s new approach to promote value addition and quality standards, among others. Ms Chileshe emphasized that FOs have a significant role to play in value chain development and ensuring their sustainability. Through FO4ACP, much knowledge has been gathered to help understand what works and what does not work in the sector. This knowledge has to be put into use.

Dagmawi Habte-Selassie, Country Representative from IFAD-Rwanda, recognized the vital role played by FOs in supporting the livelihoods and welfare of farmers in rural areas. He said that FOs empower members, prepare them to be better business partners in the value chain, and promote value addition. FOs need specific attention and support to ensure their effectiveness and sustainability and enable them to support farmers in accessing economic services such as access to finance, inputs and advisory services.

Mr Luis Rodriguez Mendizabal from the EU stated that the EU considers the Farmers’ Forum and IFAD effective channels for supporting and strengthening FOs. FO4ACP has provided a platform for linking capacities, sharing ideas, and designing common agendas and objectives for global farming communities worldwide. He acknowledged that FOs and farmers have a more prominent role in food security, sustainability, and assisting farmers to be more visible in value chains. Mr Mendizabal requested that FOs report and communicate the results and outcomes of the project better by quantifying the effects in all three components of the FO4ACP program.

The official opening was conducted by a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Madame Chantal Ingabire, who applauded PAFO for selecting Rwanda to host the meeting and expressed confidence in PAFO’s capabilities as they had hosted a similar event – Global International Youth Farmer’s Summit – in 2022. The representative noted that the thematic areas through which knowledge, experiences and lessons were to be shared were vital for the development and progress of agriculture in Africa, including Rwanda. The representative expressed hope that through exchanges of good and promising experiences and practices, the meeting would provide workable recommendations that various stakeholders would implement to transform agriculture in ACP countries.

For more information: Pan African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO)