Organising farmers and extension services

The experiences of many organic projects show that it is crucial that the farmers involved in a project feel that they have a stake and a say if the project is to succeed.
This means that project initiators cannot simply view farmers as beneficiaries but must respect them as partners with their own objectives, as experts in their field and as people who wish to shape their lives and businesses themselves. True involvement by farmers, or their representatives, in project design and decision-making helps build the necessary trust between the project organizers and the farmers involved. Moreover, projects with a high degree of farmer involvement will require less project staff and can therefore run with lower overheads.
The extent to which farmers are actively involved is reflected first and foremost in the organisational set-up of the central project unit, and in how decision-making processes are defined. The organisational chart below shows the typical structure of a farmer organisation managing organic production.

Typical structure of a farmer organisation handling organic production

A farmer organisation or company in charge of organic production needs to be able to organize the supply of inputs like untreated seeds and natural pesticides, training and extension services, certification and quality management and the processing and marketing of the products. In order to cover the costs incurred by these functions, the organisation needs to generate income. For this, the organisation usually charges a margin on the products it sells .


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