Interview with Hannelore Beerlandt, CEO AgriCord

23/01/2019

AgriCord, based in Brussels, is an international network of 14 agri-agencies, mandated by farmers’ organisations and their cooperative businesses from countries in the European Union, Canada, Africa, Latin America and Asia, bundling their efforts for strengthening farmers’ organisations in developing countries with specialized peer-to-peer services

AgriCord supports farmers’ organisations in all their functions – representation, economic services, technical services, and provision of public goods – with a range of specialised services.

CTA has strategic partnerships with AgriCord in support of farmers organisations.

Hannelore Beerlandt, CEO AgriCord

Interview: 

1. You are the CEO of Agricord. Could you summarise the main work of AgriCord which headquarters is based in Brussels?

The AgriCord alliance is the internationally recognized service provider and capacity builder for agricultural cooperatives and farmer organisations in developing countries. Farmer to farmer approach is at heart of our approach. Farmers speak the same language and AgriCord promotes South-South-North direct dialogues between farmer organisations. It is also important to remind policymakers and investors that farmer organisations and cooperatives are important drivers for inclusive growth and that they have a huge role to play in rural transition.
AgriCord is an initiative of professional farmers’ organisations and their cooperative businesses from countries in the European Union, Canada, Africa, Latin America and Asia, bundling their efforts for strengthening their colleagues in developing countries. To this end, they have formed development agencies, agri-agencies. The AgriCord alliance consists currently of 14 agri-agencies jointly managing and implementing one common development programme: Farmers Fighting Poverty (FFP).
AgriCord supports farmers’ organisations in all their functions – representation, economic services, technical services, and provision of public goods – with a range of specialised services. The services are based on farmer-to-farmer approach embedded in collaboration between farmers’ organisations, and benefitting from the know-how of the agribusiness sector of agri-agencies’ countries of origin. AgriCord supports more than 600 membership based farmers’ organisations and agricultural cooperatives in 70 developing countries. Partner farmers’ organisations range from local farmer associations to national cooperatives with strong processing capacities up to regional networks with lobby functions.

2. You have various projects supported by the EU and EU Member States in support of small-scale farmers and more recently with the ACP Group. Could you tell us more about those?

AgriCord has developed wide and stable relations with several technical and financial partners like FAO, IFAD, EU, CTA, CGIAR, IFPRI and starting partnerships with the African, Inter American and Asian Development Banks. AgriCord receives funding from different EU member states like the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Finland and Switzerland.
In Africa, AgriCord has built a strong strategic relationship with the Panafrican Farmers Organisation (PAFO) and the five Regional Farmers’ Organisations present in 49 countries and representing over 52 million smallholders, 26 million being women.
The collaboration with PAFO is taking another major step in 2019 when we start to implement a new program financed by ACP and EU. The program aims to strengthen the capacities of producer organisation and cooperatives to act as strong private sector actors in different value chains. Program’s focus is on the entrepreneurial ambitions of organisations and cooperatives. Farmer-led businesses will be supported to gain access to outside capital and to increase their role as real market players with the ultimately goal to realise better prices for their members. Program will also draw the attention of sector stakeholders, including governments and donors, to smallholder needs. Ensuring a conducive business environment for women and youth in agriculture gets special attention.

3. Agricord, the Panafrican Farmer’s Organisation (PAFO) and CTA developed a programme in support of African farmers’ organisations on ‘Building the next generation of farmers’. Its focus was on supporting capacity-development of African Farmer’s Organisations through improved Policies, Technologies and Capabilities. Could you highlight the main recommendations and what is the way forward?

The success factor in the CTA/PAFO/AgriCord program was that the involved regional farmers’ organisations initiated projects, which surpassed largely the expectations. The projects came with far-reaching digital processes which didn’t remain limited to improving access to information or efficiency but had a real structural systemic impact. A nice example is the e-Granary innovative mobile platform, developed by the East-African Farmers Federation. E-granary provides already market-oriented e-extension services to more than 100.000 farmers in Uganda.
Digitization allows to overcome longstanding paradigms about development gaps like gender, developed versus non-developed world, agro-ecology versus high-tech modern agriculture, private versus non-private sector etcetera. Africa is more advanced than Europe when it comes to mobile banking! Digital technology is there, we do not have to invent it. We just need to ensure that farmers have access to it and that their needs are taken into account when new applications are developed.
We are conscious that there still remain gaps like digitalization illiteracy which need specific attention. At the same time, digitalization offers enormous opportunities to attract youth in agriculture. It leads also to more efficiency, better targeting, and access to information for all. Imagine the future, with all this enormous creativity. Digitalization helps farmers to think ahead, to think about new possibilities and attract young people. Digitization breaks through old paradigms both in agriculture and development in general.
AgriCord is keen to take forward this unique partnership with PAFO and CTA by building on lessons learnt and scaling up the successful projects realised in our common program. In this way, we give African farmers the handles to change our mindset and build their own future!

 

More Information: