Capitalizing on the strengths of farmer organizations as potential change agents in Haiti
Published on Jul 1, 2021in Journal of Rural Studies
· DOI :10.1016/J.JRURSTUD.2021.04.022
Abstract Development agencies face challenges in fostering agricultural development in an increasingly globalized food and agricultural economy. Farmer organizations have assumed new roles in many regions in response to the growth of global food supply chains that offer new opportunities to farmers, but also affect local and national food security and constrain farmers' choices in production decisions. This research explored the structure and composition of farmer organizations that meet Haitian government requirements for designation as non-profit organizations, which provides access to donor resources. The objective was to develop a typology of non-profit farmer organizations participating in the USAID-funded Appui a la Recherche et au Developpement Agricole (AREA) Project in Haiti in order to enhance their capacity to meet the needs of Haitian farmers. We identified 64 farmer associations that were functioning as nonprofit organizations in the Haiti West region and could be contacted by telephone. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with leaders of 24 of these associations and used a multi-step coding process to identify critical distinguishing traits of five types of organizations identified. Current organizational capacity varies and needs of their members vary among the types. Members of the Connected and Umbrella types have more access to resources than the resource-poor Advocating for Women and Quasi-Functional types. The Working Women and Advocating for Women types have a high percentage of women members, but the Working Women type's members are businesswomen and have distinct needs from the members of Advocating for Women, who have greater needs for resources to support their roles in family and community. We conclude that these organizations do have potential as change agents but need support to foster organizational development to reach their full potential. Our findings coupled with the evidence in the literature of the capacity of farmer associations to play important roles in agricultural modernization and marketing suggest that a more articulated approach to assistance through and for farmer associations could generate powerful change over time. The value of the typology lies in its capacity to help donors distinguish among the needs and potential contributions of each type of association.