The Learning Route themed “Facilitating access of organised smallholders farmers to lucrative and fair markets – cases from Togo” is organised by PROCASUR in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), as part of the Programme “Capacity Building and Tools to Scale Up and Disseminate Innovations” (2016-2018). Within the framework of this programme, “Farmers Organizations (FOs) and market access” theme has been identified as a priority area of intervention, from which to draw lessons from innovative solutions and successful experiences, and scale them up. In fact, market access remains one of the major constraints for smallholder producers in Africa and a major issue of interest for IFAD.
In West and Central Africa (WCA), the lack of stable and profitable markets is one of the major constraints facing small-scale producers. However, opportunities do exist such as the development of local agri-food processing units or exporters who seek to source locally with clearly-defined specifications which are still unmet. In this context, FOs are vital in connecting producers to markets.
In WCA there are various organizational models to connect smallholder farmers to markets, especially through FOs, which constitute the aggregation mechanisms conducive to economies of scale and which have developed key services meant to further connect their members with markets.
Collective action, particularly through FOs, is therefore a relevant solution to addressing the challenges facing smallholder farmers in their attempts to connect to markets. There are also other forms of organization wherein organized producers participate in the management of a private company operating in the processing and marketing their products; one such model is more commonly referred to as a “joint venture”.
PROCASUR has chosen to organise this Learning Route in Togo because the country boasts a double specificity relating to its organizational models to facilitate market access for small-holders. On, one hand the “Service Companies and Producer Organizations – ESOP” model was founded in the country. On the other hand, Togo benefits from a vibrant farmer organizations that has gained momentum since early 2000s through the creation of the national for-mer organization apex body, viz. Coordination Togolaise des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs Agricoles (CTOP), whose core mission is to defend the interests and enhance the efficiency of family farms.