West African Farmers’ Organisations and the Current Climate: Opportunities and Challenges

West African Farmers’ Organisations and the Current Climate:  Opportunities and Challenges
N°13

The farmers’ movement asserted itself strongly in West Africa in a very unique context—that of the 1980s, a time of State withdrawal and structural adjustments, a vital associative dynamic in rural areas, the involvement of charismatic farmer leaders, and the support of committed technical and financial partners. This movement became progressively structured, from village groups to supra-national networks at the turn of the 2000s. Since the advent of these farmers’, livestock farmers’ and herders’ organisations (FOs) and notably over the past ten years, the sub-regional context has changed greatly. In particular, after the 2008 food crisis that was followed by other food and climate crises in the Sahel, we saw new armed conflicts, dropping agricultural ODA, rising land prices and renewed interest in agriculture from the private sector, a springing up of initiatives by the international community to fight food insecurity, and the announcement of ambitious agricultural investment programmes, etc. In response to these major changes, FOs have attempted to adapt and make themselves heard while simultaneously facing recurrent internal difficulties unique to all social movements. After approximately forty years of existence, where is the West African farmers’ movement today? How have FOs’ strategies and practices changed? How are they adapting to new challenges? This brief attempts to address all of these questions.

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