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Workshop 2: Civic actions and markets

July 2009

Author: Chris Ochsendorf, Facilitator: Bert Helmsing

Peter Knorringa and Catherine van der Wees from HIVOS gave a presentation on poverty reduction for local farmers in Nyei, Kenya. The goal of the organisation is to introduce a new strategy of achieving quality improvement among groups of smallholders in the production of coffee. With this project they’re assisting small coffee farmers to give them more insight into the development and requirements of the international coffee market. Improving their coffee quality is a way of getting better trading conditions on the market, so they are able to compete against larger and more powerful coffee farmers. In doing so HIVOS started to train so-called promoter farmers who set the right example and consult other farmers in sustainable coffee growing. This will improve the access to information on processing and crop-protection techniques. But also information about the market and the price of coffee can be easily spread so they will have a better trading position. Key to the project is that farmers create a network to face problems together whenever they might occur.

During the discussion the following points were raised:

  • In accordance with the CDC framework this project starts from below.
  • Transparency of the market is required to make the initiative a success.
  • Creating coordination between the farmers needs to be determined.
  • Economic empowerment can change power relations.
  • The way farmers do business should be redefined in order for them to get ownership.

During the second half of the workshop, Edwin Willemsen and LP Semwal described a pilot project aimed at empowering small apple-growing farmers in North India. The project is a initiative by the combined efforts of St. Het Groene Woudt (SHGW), the Netherlands, Fresh food Technology (FFT), the Netherlands and Shri Jagdamba Samiti (SJS), India. By giving the farmers a new business approach they should be able to move themselves up the value chain. Facilitating improved market access and cutting out the necessity of using a middle-man will increase the income of the farmers. Giving the farmers self confidence to be an entrepreneur and getting bargaining positions on the market where the main objectives of the project.

The discussion about this case revolved mainly around question to what extent the project is truly civic-driven.