An update on the IWA 29:2019

The IWA 29:2019 - ‘Professional Farmer Organization Guidelines’ was published by ISO in February 2019. This document defines the core capacities of professional farmer organizations, clarifying what it means to be a professional farmer organization and what it takes to successfully get there. Since its publication, AMEA members have promoted the IWA 29 and looked for opportunities to test these guidelines. In 2022, ISO will ask stakeholders worldwide if the document should be converted into an International Standard.

A year after its publication, we take a look at the progress IWA 29 has made around the world.

ISO is a global network of national standards bodies (NSBs). Through these NSB members, ISO brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. If an NSB chooses to officially adopt an ISO standard, it means that national stakeholders have stated that a standard is relevant for them. It might also have implications for the price of the document. It should be noted that the publication of the IWA29 does not mean that a certification scheme should be developed. AMEA intends that IWA29 and any future standard is useful for professionalising all Farmer Organisations.


Available languages

French translation of the guidelines was published in April 2019, facilitated by the French standardization institute (AFNOR). 

A Spanish translation of IWA/ISO documents requires a minimum of five countries (represented by NSBs) to endorse an official translation. AMEA is working with partners in Latin America and the Peruvian National Standards Body (INACAL) to begin the process of Spanish translation.

IWA 29 in action

According to our latest stakeholder survey, 50% of respondents indicated they have previously used IWA 29 in their work, or plan to within the next six months.

As part of our periodic review of tools for inclusion in the AMEA Toolkit, AMEA is currently mapping the tools against IWA 29 to assess alignment. This will enable tool users to understand how each tool supports farmer organization achievement of the guidelines. 


AMEA members have also started using the IWA29 to improve their own tools and have integrated IWA 29 into new project proposals.

In the second half of 2020, AMEA plans to issue a call for case studies and lessons learned in using IWA 29.

Heifer International has customized their cooperative capacity assessment tool, aligning it with the performance areas laid out by the IWA. The introduction section of the tool makes direct reference to this: “The current version of CAT is grounded on the Professional Farmer Organization Guidelines: IWA 29 (International Workshop Agreement 29). These guidelines provide a common language and focus on the requirements and standards for farmer organizations”.


IWA 29 around the world


AMEA members are currently coordinating with partners in Honduras to begin the process for local adoption. OHN (the Honduran National Standards Body) expects a relatively quick process for adoption, with key stakeholders from the public, private and consumer sector as well as academia joining the technical committee to endorse the IWA 29.


The AMEA Local Network in Ethiopia developed a plan to explore adoption of the IWA 29, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Standards Agency and Federal Cooperatives Agency.  A task force was formed and met in February 2020. This taskforce is currently investigating the possibilities to validate and test the IWA 29 in Ethiopia in the coming months.


The IWA 29 is in the final stages of adoption by the Ivorian National Standards Body (CODINORM). The AMEA Local Network in the Ivory Coast is supporting this process and convening local stakeholders to actively use and promote the IWA 29 in the country. The Local Network also played a key role in providing input for the French translation of the IWA 29.


AMEA partnered with the Dutch Standards Body (NEN) to develop the IWA 29. This included a stakeholder meeting, held in the Netherlands in 2018, to review comments from participants and develop the final version of the ‘Professional Farmer Organisation Global Guidelines’. NEN officially adopted IWA 29 following its publication by ISO in February 2019.


The Local Network in Uganda developed a work plan to validate and officially recognize the IWA29 in Uganda, including local adoption by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS). This workplan is being revised following the decision by AMEA to focus its work on testing the IWA29 and generating evidence for the review process which will take place in 2022.


The process for local adoption of the IWA 29 began in late 2019 and entered a public consultation phase in February 2020. The publication of a national norm by INACAL (the Peruvian National Standards Body) is expected in May 2020.


In February 2020, AMEA members held a workshop for local network members to deepen their understanding of the IWA 29 and brainstorm ways to promote, advocate for and apply the guidelines in Kenya. AMEA members have connected with stakeholders such as government ministries, umbrella farmer federations, technical learning institutions and agricultural regulating bodies to find ways to use the IWA 29 in their work. AMEA members are also working on case studies that show the use of the IWA 29 in practice.

Where to next?

While AMEA is very excited about the progress the IWA 29 has made in the past year, there’s still a long way to go to making this a truly global set of guidelines that supports farmer organizations in professionalizing to improve their access to markets and finance. Here are some ways that your organization can promote and raise awareness about the IWA 29:


  • Read our overview of the IWA 29 and share it with your colleagues and partners

  • Join AMEA! As an AMEA member, you can join our Global Guidelines Working Group and our Local Networks. You can contribute to the IWA 29’s trajectory and incorporate the guidelines into your projects as part of the AMEA Framework

  • Map and align your own tools and approaches to the guidelines and integrate IWA 29 into monitoring and evaluation systems to measure impact on farmer organization professionalization

  • Integrate IWA 29 into your policies, strategies, proposals and reporting

  • Integrate IWA 29 into farmer organization capacity building and business plans

  • Include IWA 29 on the agenda of key events and forums

  • Follow AMEA on LinkedIn and Twitter to read all the latest IWA 29 news

  • Contact us to be added to our quarterly IWA engagement survey

Not familiar with the IWA 29? Read more about it on our website or browse the IWA FAQs. You can purchase the IWA 29 on the ISO online browsing platform or view our detailed overview free of charge.