An in depth look into why CTA joined AMEA
Ever wondered about the value of AMEA? We met up with leading expert Gian Nicola Francesconi the Senior Technical Advisor for Cooperative Agribusiness Development at CTA to get the gists to why CTA decided to join the AMEA Alliance.
Tell us about yourself and your position with CTA?
Well, my name is Gian Nicola Francesconi, and I am the Senior Technical Advisor for Cooperative Agribusiness Development at The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) of the European Union. My journey with CTA commenced when they decided to house the Enhancing Development through Cooperatives (EDC) Initiative, a project that I have been developing in Africa during the past 10 years of dedicated work in support of farmer organizations.
Why has CTA decided to join AMEA?
CTA believes in partnering with other organization in order to achieve common development objectives. One of CTA’s objective is to build capacity in agricultural cooperatives and farmer organizations to improve their commercial performance. AMEA offered CTA the opportunity to liaise with other leading organizations in this specific line of work. CTA thus joined AMEA to expand its partnership-base and scale up efforts for the development of a new generation of professional and commercial coops and FOs in Africa. CTA can be an important player in this network, because it brings research-driven training and coaching modules that have the potential to spur innovation within AMEA and in the governance of African FOs.
What are the challenges the agriculture sector is facing and how is AMEA turning these challenges into opportunities?
In my opinion, the main challenge the agriculture sector in Africa faces is transforming rural communities and associations into farmer-owned enterprises. This is exactly what AMEA and its members are trying to do, in order to help Africa complete its transition from subsistence agriculture to agribusiness. AMEA offer its members with an opportunity to come together and amplify this message, so has to attract more funding for professionalizing African coops and FOs.
Why do we need one common global definition for professional Farmer Organizations?
This is AMEA’s highest-level task, which has the potential to promote and guide the much-needed revision of obsolete and ineffective policies and regulations regarding coops and FOs in Africa. The only reference available at the moment is given by a set of cooperative principles endorsed by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). These principles were conceived in the EU and North America to reduce the side effects of profit maximizing behavior and allow cooperatives to incorporate social values into their business undertakings. However, these principles do not apply and may even be counterproductive to African coops and FOs, as these organizations remain closer to socially inclusive communities than profit-maximizing enterprises
How can AMEA members connect FOs to markets?
The AMEA alliance comprises member-organization that have the longest and probably the best track-record in linking FOs to markets. Most of these are non-governmental and non-profit organizations with extensive field experience and presence, and the ability to attract both public and private funds for building up these costly and risky linkages. AMEA and its members should however make more of an effort to look beyond market relationships between FOs and their buyers, and to engage in policymaking processes as well. AMEA can and should be advising law and policy makers regarding farmer organizations in Africa, to ensure the creation of an enabling environment for these organizations to thrive. Governments still play a dominant role in many African countries and it’s difficult to have an impact on FOs and their value chains without having the endorsement and being enabled by national governments. AMEA can move in this direction by introducing higher-level training events for policymakers as well, especially to raise awareness of and to substantiate and legitimize its International Workshop Agreement (IWA) with International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which aims to establish an international standard for professional FOs in developing countries.
How does AMEA link to the United Nation’s sustainable development goals?
AMEA’s mission aligns with five of the seventeen UN’s SDGs.
Where do you see AMEA in five year?
AMEA’s concept of a standardized approach along with uniting a wide network of organizations around the globe in one alliance has the potential to improve farmers’ revenues, productivity and sustainability, rural employment and urban consumption. In five years, we should see a well-ordered market ecosystem where farmer organizations have evolved into reliable business partners to all-important stakeholders in agriculture.
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