In recent years, the concept of farmer empowerment has increasingly become an important part of the development agenda being widely regarded as the most sustainable approach to helping poor farmers in becoming more productive.
In fact, farmer empowerment is widely accepted as a precondition for demand-driven development with farmers articulating their demands. Hence, farmer associations have the potential for providing a common platform for joint action through which small-scale farmers can gain the advantage of economy of scale in accessing services and markets.
Moreover, farmer empowerment supports farmers
to become strong actors in other areas that influence their livelihoods, such as education, health and land tenure rights.
Farmer associations tend to succeed if:
• Farmers can autonomously manage themselves with minimal government interference, and
• Farmers become active participants in the decision-making process to improve their livelihood and production systems.
Group photo: Farmer associations training workshop with UNHCR head office Hargeisa, ADO staffs.
An approach to rural development that involves farmers in decision-making is consistent with the increasing democratizing process in Somaliland. ADO has since its establishment in 1991 been providing valuable technical and materials support to local farmers. At this stage, ADO has realized the need to introduce a rights-based approach and gender mainstreaming to its programming since the poor – including farmers have inherent rights to demand development assistance. The most practical way of achieving this is the formation of farmer associations which could act “as catalyst for change” at the farmers’ level.