Implementation of a Farmer Marketing Organizations (FMO) Program
In Ethiopia 6 NGOs implement a Farmer Marketing Organizations (FMO) Program, organized in a Consortium with one of the NGOs as lead agent. Since 2008 this programme focuses on income security instead of food security, with a strong emphasis on the value chain approach.
This external evaluation mission at the end of the current phase had a strong participatory and learning character, meant to create a maximum ownership for the conclusions and recommendations. This would then provide the key inputs for the formulation mission for the next phase, shortly held after this evaluation mission.
The main conclusions were as follows:
- Income improvements for farmer households have been achieved but more as a result of successful yield increases than as a result of successful marketing by the FMOs.
- The program thus far has more dealt with FMOs and their members and not much with other chain actors or supporters. So the Value Chain approach has so far showed a too narrow focus.
- This also included limited attention to BDS and finance services.
- Internal capacity building in VCD concepts has been an important field of investment, which has created the basis for successful facilitation of value chain improvements.
Interestingly, the Training of Trainers (TOT) approach has demonstrated its limitations. The TOT does not succeed to get the necessary knowledge and skills till the final field level. It requires a stronger coaching and mentoring function to get knowledge and skills really grounded in practice. TOT should not be opted on its cost attractiveness, but on the real results on the ground in terms of improved performance.
The Consortium itself is an excellent example of the programmatic approach, as members have largely harmonized their operations and management. It has proved to be an admirable platform for joint learning and experience sharing.
The main recommendations focused on:
- A greater emphasis on other chain actors and supporters with more emphasis on the specific NGO chain facilitation role towards all these different actors, assuring fair distribution of responsibilities and roles; of benefits and risks.
- Focus on strong FMOs which have a business drive and risk taking spirit, phasing out the poorly performing ones. Bringing strong FMOs in apex body!
- Improve effectiveness of FMO program by investing in learning and PME processes. Learning must take a longer term character, looking at trends across years, and comparing the diverse performance of NGOs more in-depth.