Rural activities systems and producers organisations

Rural areas have had to contend with major changes in their institutional and socio-economic contexts over the last 30 years – State withdrawal, changing agrarian systems, strong demographic growth, inequalities, poverty, rapid urbanisation, etc. Iram helps rural actors anticipate and accommodate these changes in order to promote and support sustainable development.

Rural settings facing multiple changes

Rural populations live in an increasingly complex environment. At the institutional level, they have had to adjust to State disengagement, the mixed results of decentralisation, changing market rules and the emergence of new private sector and civil society organisations. On the socio-economic front, they have to contend with market integration and liberalisation and increasingly intense competition at the local, regional and international levels. In addition to this, factors such as strong demographic growth, imbalances between urban and rural development, rural exodus and conflicts over access to over-exploited natural resources all carry particular opportunities and risks for rural actors.

In this context of tremendous change, policies need to be reworked and agricultural production and rural activities supported to combat poverty and encourage rural development. It is particularly important to ensure that:

  • Agricultural policies take account of the diversity of production systems and relations between different production units, so that they set appropriate development objectives.
  • There is support for agricultural advisory mechanisms (from the private sector and professional organisations).
  • Rural producer organisations are autonomous and have the resources to contribute to public decisions, access markets and participate in the economic development of value chains. In order to become autonomous, they need to prepare strategic development plans and consolidate their governance structures and practices.
  • Financial services are adjusted to meet the development needs of rural areas following the dismantling of previous agricultural finance systems by the public sector. The few agricultural development banks that do exist only support secure value chains, and the even smaller number of private banks that operate in rural areas only finance commercial activities. Supporting new rural finance institutions is a major challenge in this context.

Iram’s approach

Iram provides various forms of support to help rural actors anticipate or accommodate these changes:

  • Agricultural policies. Formulating innovative agricultural policies to secure the economic environment, safeguard agricultural finance and ensure access to land in order to encourage agricultural development.
  • Understanding the dynamics of production systems. Iram has developed a method of analysing agrarian systems to enable actors to develop appropriate intervention policies and propose relevant actions to meet the needs of farmers and rural producers.
  • Advisory mechanisms. Iram designs and implements advisory and support mechanisms that are tailored to the needs of rural producer organisations and take account of their specific contexts: management centres (accounting and finance), mechanisms for institutional and organisational advice, service and resource centres that match demand from producer groups with public and private service providers.
  • Strategies for rural producer organisations (RPO). Technical, organisational, economic and commercial support for RPOs that takes account of their specific contexts strengthens their structures and puts them on a more professional standing. Iram prioritises participatory approaches to encourage the emergence and recognition of stronger, more accountable, legitimate and viable RPOs.
  • Tools for agricultural finance. Iram helps emerging rural finance institutions adapt their services and organisations and refine their products (savings, credit, insurance) and types of guarantee (solidarity, village, material). It supports rural organisations, with a particular focus on contracts between microfinance institutions and agricultural economic organisations, in order to establish links between production and finance. The institute also works on innovative rural finance mechanisms with different actors (RPOs, agricultural production companies, rural groups, private institutions and public authorities).