Smallholder farmers’ organizations are put in place by farmers to help them achieve a
common goal. Before starting working with them it is important for a councillor or an
agribusiness development expert to have a picture of these organizations at the
beginning. Diagnostic is a tool that helps them have this picture and to set a working strategy that will permit them to address the identified problems of the organizations and assist farmers develop sustainable solutions for these problems.

Small holders or family farmers are small scale farmers, pastoralists and
fishers who use mainly family labour for production and often produce for subsistence. They use part of their produce for family consumption and they manage areas varying from less than one hectare to 10 hectares. Some of them come together to form small holder farmers organisations (SHFO) to achieve common goals, this can
be to ameliorate their productivities, their sales, the post-harvest management, the
acquisition of input at better price or advocacy for a right, etc.

Organization generally render service to their members and impact the local communities in which they operate socially and economically such as cleaning their communities, providing loans for external members and assist under privilege etc.

A small holder farmers’ organization can be a common initiative group, an association or a cooperative, etc. The functioning of the organisations is governed by internal and external factors. For a SHFO to function at the best of its potential it needs to take into
consideration these factors. A diagnostic is then needed to collect information, analyse it and produce an Internal-External (IE) analysis also called SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) analysis. In this document focus will be laid on diagnostic, it is an essential element for SWOT analysis in smallholder farmers’ organizations.

Diagnostic is carried out in a smallholder farmers’ organization by a councillor or an
agribusiness development expert at the beginning of his work with this
organization. It will permit him to have the picture of the organization at that moment (before he begins working with the organization). The diagnosis is also carried
after a certain period (after one year) of work with the organization to evaluate his

A diagnostic is participatory, the councillor or the expert works with all the members of the organization to collect data on the external and internal factors. The expert observation is an access to identify elements related to decision making and involvement of members in the organization. The information collected and the observations will then permit him to bring out the picture of that organization at that particular moment, and with this information he can propose a consolidation and development/strategic plan for the growth of the organisation.

The data collected and analysed should be presented to the organization for feedback. The feedback can be some modification, complementary information or that he has presented correctly the data collected. This presentation can be done through paper board if there is limited access to electricity or through a video projection if possible. When collecting data, it is good to start with the organisation’s life, then the internal factors and finally the external factors. 

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Author: Stephane NGALEU, Agribusiness Consultant at POLA CAPITAL




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