This chapter has examined the necessary conditions under which smallholder farmers organize into CSOs in order to influence the policy framework in the countries in which they are based, and the role that multinational agencies like IFAD can play in supporting them. After highlighting the theoretical rationale under which FOs form and influence the policy framework, IFAD’s conception of country level policy engagement, and the specific ways that they encourage CSOs were highlighted. This was followed by an examination of IFAD’s work with CSOs on policy issues in three different regions.
While traditional policy frameworks in the post-war twentieth century were not accommodating to smallholders, more recently there has been positive change towards considering the needs and interests of small- holder/family farmers in achieving access to markets and participating in economic activities. The chapter seeks to account for how these conditions emerge by positing a simple framework suggesting that two factors are necessary: governments’ interest in representing the rural poor as a key part of their political constituencies; and the organization of smallholders to identify and ask for changes to micro-level barriers in their access to markets. This framework helps to explain why some governments experience a lag between the development of headline policies oriented towards the rural poor and outcomes, and why not all governments are forthcoming in protecting the interests of smallholders. It is not meant to be an exhaustive framework, but one that helps explain the particular cases in this set of studies.
The examples of IFAD’s work presented in the text provide some insight into how international actors can facilitate the emergence of the conditions set forth in the framework, enabling better organization and participation of smallholders, and more attention from governments to the interests and needs of such actors. This in turn can have a positive impact on the policy framework in which smallholder farmers and their organizations operate. IFAD’s approach shows there can be a role for external players in supporting such processes.