Professional Farmer Organization - Guidelines (IWA 29:2019)

'IWA 29: Professional farmer organizations – Guidelines' provide a common language for all stakeholders in the agricultural sector on the key characteristics of a professional farmer organization. Its purpose is to support professionalism leading to improved performance and access to finance and markets and to align visions and interventions of stakeholders in their efforts to professionalize farmer organizations.



AMEA initiated the development of the Professional Farmer Organization Guidelines in

2017. Our commitment to developing a common language and shared understanding of

required capacities of professional farmer organizations is grounded in the AMEA Framework,

a collective and integrated methodology for improving farmer organization performance

and, thereby, farmer livelihoods and supply chain reliability.

An AMEA Working Group was formed to take the global guidelines forward. Facilitated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Dutch National Standards Body (NEN), AMEA began developing an International Workshop Agreement (IWA). The Working Group drafted the original proposal and developed the guidelines over a period of two years, incorporating input from AMEA members, consultants, and a wide range of stakeholders.


See the full list of IWA 29 endorsers here

AMEA and NEN invited stakeholders worldwide to register online to review and comment on the guidelines proposal. Any organization, company or individual was allowed to comment and attend a two-day International Workshop Agreement meeting in Delft, Netherlands in November 2018. The final IWA 29 was published in February 2019The complete IWA 29 may be obtained through the ISO Online Browsing Platform or through your ISO National Standards Body. AMEA has also developed a detailed overview of IWA 29, available here. It is available in English and French. A Spanish translation is under negotiation.

Currently, AMEA is focused on promoting IWA 29 and supporting AMEA members and stakeholders to promote and adopt the guidelines. Our Local Networks play an important role in promoting the Global guidelines and advocating for the IWA 29:2019 through National Standards Bureaus. In the next few years, we will be collecting and disseminating information on the use of IWA 29 and documenting case studies and learning for future refinements to the guidelines and possible progress towards a full ISO standard.


Why use the Global Guidelines?


The IWA29 has the potential to make capacity building support systems for farmers more efficient and aligned. Farmers will have more clarity on what professional capacities are needed to close deals with buyers, financial institutes and other service providers. Combined with the right assessments and trainings, the IWA29 contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals: reducing poverty (SDG1) and hunger (SDG2), generating good jobs and economic growth (SDG8) and responsible production (SDG12).



The Guidelines are intended to:


  • Provide guidance to improve the professionalism of farmer organizations, leading to improved performance and access to finance and markets

  • Support members and staff of professional farmer organizations to supervise and hold their organization and leadership accountable

  • Increase the understanding and confidence of buyers, suppliers, investors and others doing business with professional farmer organizations

  • Give direction to the actions of providers of training, assessment, advisory and other organizational and business development services

  •  Align the vision and interventions of stakeholders in their effort to professionalize farmer organizations

  • Encourage active engagement with broader stakeholders

How to use the Global Guidelines


Create a common understanding and greater alignment

with the stakeholders in your value chain(s)


Identify the strengths and weaknesses of farmer organizations

and pathways to improve their professionalism

Measure the progress of farmer organizations against the IWA 29 global guidelines

Incorporate the IWA 29 in monitoring and evaluating programs


Reference the IWA 29 in your plans, newsletters, blogs and other marketing efforts

Deepen your engagement


  • Join the AMEA Global Guidelines Working Group to stay up to date on the latest IWA 29 activities and influence the future of the guidelines

  • Choose AMEA-approved tools from the AMEA Toolbox to measure the level of adherence to IWA 29 and use the approved training and coaching curricula to build capacity if the level of professionalism is not yet adequate

  • Join the AMEA Local Networks and advocate for the IWA 29:2019 in your country

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To maximize stakeholder engagement and participation, the AMEA network led a strong outreach campaign to bring stakeholders to the table. AMEA members organized eight regional workshops in Addis Ababa, Abidjan, Bangkok, Kampala, Lima, London, Tegucigalpa and Washington D.C.

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For more information about the IWA schedule and the IWA/ISO process of setting the guidelines of professional farmers organization, visit our IWA webpage, read our FAQ or contact us at