By their design and intent, Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) have great potential to address several constraints of smallholder farmers and can prove crucial in doubling farmer incomes. However, they are a relatively nascent concept with limited success to date. FPOs face several internal and external challenges in their growth path. Their leadership consists of farmers who lack the business acumen and management skills to effectively govern and manage the enterprise, and they require dedicated capacity building support to transform these institutions into sustainable, scalable and impactful entities.
FPO promotion and capacity building have gained traction in recent years with more than 16,000 FPOs promoted and more than 700 resource institutions present in the ecosystem. This consists of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consultancy firms, government agencies, as well as other private sector entities such as financial institutions, agri-business and agri-tech companies.
In order to sustain and scale up FPOs, it is critical to focus on effective leadership and governance, while addressing the key challenges and constraints pertaining to these aspects. These include the lack of competent and motivated human resources and the skewed focus of most of the capacity building programmes in terms of content, output orientation, delivery models, and more. These can be addressed through strategies such as the careful selection of leaders and managers, life cycle-based customised capacity building, decentralised leadership through Farmer Interest Groups (FIG) and sub-committees developing a pipeline of future leaders, managers and trainers locally. Finally, external experts could be leveraged as independent directors, advisors, fellows and volunteers in FPO management and leadership positions.
Authors: Pratheek Abraham and Ashutosh Choudhary
Technical review: Debaranjan Pujahari