Effective forest and farm producer organizations - Sharing stories and experiences

Effective forest and farm producer organizations - Sharing stories and experiences

the Netherlands - 24 August, 2015

A new book brings together 30 articles, highlighting examples from more than 30 countries, showing that well-organized groups hold the key to a more sustainable and equitable world.

Farm and forest producer organizations are of critical importance to the sustainable use of our natural resources, now and into the future. So says the growing consensus of global opinion. And they hold the key to overcoming many issues, from poverty and human rights, to environmental degradation and biodiversity conservation. Producer organizations represent the collective voices of farmers and forest- dependent peoples, indigenous groups and rural communities. They, are the building blocks of local democracy, and provide essential services to members. And when truly inclusive and with the right support, management choices are sustainable and the benefits are equitable.

This latest edition of ETFRN News contains more than 200 pages of stories from local producer organizations, associations and federations, and from those that speak for them at national and international levels. Reporting on issues of inclusiveness, this is also reflected in the authorship, with most of the 80 contributing (co)authors from the Global South, representing NGOs, UN organizations, government bodies and private companies as well as producer organizations, a third of them women. The result is a compilation of experiences that adds significantly to a growing body of knowledge. Forest and farm producer organizations speak of their achievements and successes – and challenges, some overcome, some not. They share how they have organized themselves, what support they have received, and whether this was for better or for worse. Some benefits were expected, others unexpected. Problems remain, and some were made worse, even with well-meaning intentions of ‘outsiders’.

What have we learnt?

As well as understanding the experiences of individual producer organizations, we appreciate the pivotal role that umbrella organizations – national or regional federations or associations – are able to play in scaling up the benefits. To have meaningful influence at policy and corporate levels, becoming more effective at higher levels is a strategy that must be promoted. Well organized and articulated, many voices can force through the necessary changes needed for local producers to improve and sustain the positive impacts they make to their land, livelihoods and well being.

But the bottom line, as emphasized in many of the articles, is to ensure people’s rights to land, natural, social and financial resources, and to justice and the rule of law in assuring and enforcing these basic human rights. And here, much still remains to be done. But there is much to learn from within these pages, and we hope that you will also take encouragement from the stories that are shared here.