Farmer Based Organizations
Investing in Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) has become an important strategy for donor agencies and non-governmental organizations alike. In fact, it is often the most significant project activity, designed to achieve various objectives, such as improving credit recovery through peer pressure; managing irrigation schemes; empowering farmers to demand services; strengthening producer positions' with traders; reducing transaction costs of contracting with smallholders and of providing extension services; and facilitating value addition.
Improving the position of women in agriculture is often an explicit goal in this context, which is pursued both by supporting women organizations and by strengthening the role of women in mixed organizations. Between 2000 and 2007, the World Bank alone invested more than $US 9 million into FBOs as part of its Agricultural Sector Services Investment Program (AGSSIP). It is an important aspect of private sector led strategies to develop smallholders, but whether the FBOs are effective in helping the members achieve the objectives has not been investigated adequately. In addition, there is limited knowledge about how to actually intervene to improve their effectiveness.
As part of this project, one background paper, A Review of Collective Action in Rural Ghana, was published examining patterns and determinants in the development of FBOs in Ghana. To follow up on this work, extensive data was then collected from nearly 500 Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) in 8 districts in Ghana in order to assess the effectiveness of FBOs in a wide range of applications for determining their suitability for collective approaches and to identify strategies by which governmental and non-governmental organizations can strengthen the role of FBOs in promoting smallholder-based agricultural development. Analysis of this data is ongoing to determine 1) the nature of collective activities in which they perform well and the associated reasons and 2) effective measures to strengthen the capacity of FBOs.
A note discussing the data that was collected as well as a preliminary analysis discussing how FBOs are established and what activities they undertake can be found here. Subsequent analyses are currently underway and will be posted shortly.