Agricultural and regional integration policies

Iram intervenes on this theme at various levels (from the local to the international), working with very diverse actors (from rural producers to governments and development agencies) to harmonise local development dynamics, national strategies, regional policies and international negotiations. Its interventions involve negotiation, consultation and mediation, access to information and support in defining agricultural policies.

Jointly formulated and negotiated agricultural policies

The liberalisation of trade and decentralisation of decision-making since the 1990s resulted in:

  • public policy reforms
  • State disengagement and the emergence of increasingly powerful new actors as drivers of agricultural policies (particularly actors from civil society and the private sector)
  • the promotion of public-private partnerships.

The mixed results of liberalisation policies and growing power of these new actors subsequently prompted the public authorities to re-engage with the agricultural sector. This in turn led to:

  • A reorientation of agricultural policies to correct market failures and provide public goods (that the market cannot deliver), regulate competition, enable actors to access information, develop services (agricultural credit and insurance) and reduce inequalities. These objectives are pursued through joint, coordinated actions by the State, the market and collective endeavours.
  • Actors repositioning themselves and redefining their roles. Civil society actors need to establish their positions, improve their negotiating and decision-making skills, and access up-to-date information so that they can help formulate public policies that address people’s needs and expectations. The State has also regained its legitimacy as an actor that intervenes directly on issues such as social protection, food security stocks, improving agricultural credit, etc.
  • Changing support for policy formulation. Policy support has shifted from assisting State-led decisions to supporting negotiations and consultations between several types of actor: public authorities (central and local governments), private operators and socio-professional organisations.

Current moves to integrate regional trade policies – through recently signed or forthcoming economic partnership agreements (EPA) between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries – also present new challenges for the developing countries concerned: competition over their agricultural markets, loss of customs revenues that are essential to State budgets, etc.  These countries are now asking for impact analyses of the commercial and fiscal effects of these EPAs on their economies, and governments and civil society organisations are raising questions about their own and other countries’ levels of openness and trade protection.

Iram’s approach

Iram intervenes at different levels to address these issues, working with actors ranging from local producers to international strategists to:

  • Help structure and improve the negotiating skills of (i) rural collectives, in order to increase their participation in decision-making and management bodies and thereby reduce imbalances between actors, and (ii) governments, by developing solid arguments to defend their country’s interests in international negotiations.
  • Provide support mechanisms to facilitate access to information and resources (for agri-food value chains) to reduce asymmetries, redress the balance in different actors’ access to information and avoid margins being monopolized by certain actors.
  • Mediate between diverse actors – grassroots organisations, private operators, public decision makers, States, local authorities, cooperation agencies – on different themes, from regional integration and trade policies to the prevention and management of food crises, poverty reduction, etc.
  • Support the formulation of national and regional agricultural policies at various levels: (i) building the capacities of public decision-makers and professional managers to prepare proposals, (ii) assistance on the technical and consultative aspects of policy formulation, (iii) training decision-makers on the public economy and in argumentation techniques, (iv) producing impact assessments and formulating recommendations.
  • Provide expert economic analysis to improve knowledge and understanding of the reality of economic exchanges (especially at the regional level) and the competitiveness of different economies.