ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security


Farmer Groups in Food Production

Purpose of this guide

This guide explains the advantages farmers can gain by using small group approaches to solve their food production problems.

Benefits of farmer groups

How farmers benefit:

Working through small groups, farmers can reduce the cost of accessing inputs, production technologies, information and markets by sharing these costs amongst all members of the group. This means lower individual costs.

How governments benefit:

Governments obtain several advantages by working through farmer groups.

Group Formation at local level

Group formation is ideally done by farmers themselves. This process can be facilitated by locally identified and specially trained Group Promoters (GPs), who assist the group development process and act as intermediaries between the groups and outside providers of services. Some basic rules of group formation are:

1. Encourage group action:

2. Discuss group formation

3. Establish groups

4. Aim at group self-reliance

For the benefits of group action to continue even after outside assistance ceases, the groups must become self-reliant and cohesive units. This requires training:

Further Reading:

Scaling up

Small groups have their limits. Encouraging small groups to link up into larger inter-group associations, once they have achieved satisfactory self-reliance, say after 2-3 years, can further increase their marketing power and economies-of-scale.

But inter-group associations are more complex and difficult to manage than small groups and require different approaches and methods. New guidelines are needed.

Further Reading:

Favourable policy environments

Farmer groups are best promoted where legal and policy conditions favour such forms of cooperation and when the government confines its role to that of a facilitator rather than a controller.

Further Reading: