Global hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row due to extreme climate events, an ever-expanding population, and many other factors. Providing enough food to feed the world starts with farmers. And, as food security concerns grow, the demand for nutritious, sustainably produced food is at a critical high.

Farmer organizations need to more effectively grow and innovate. In the 1960s, ACDI/VOCA was founded under the United States’ agricultural cooperative movement. Now, more than 50 years later, ACDI/VOCA is playing a key role in standardizing the professionalism of farmer organizations globally.

As a member of the Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance (AMEA), ACDI/VOCA led a working group to draft the 29th International Workshop Agreement (IWA 29): Professional Farmer Organization – Guidelines. IWA 29 provides a common language for the core capacities of professional farmer organizations. The document, which was published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in April, is a guide not only for smallholder farmers, but also the banks, private companies, and government agencies with whom they collaborate.

IWA workshop, November 2018.

In 2017 AMEA initiated the process to draft the guidelines, which was facilitated by Dutch ISO member Netherlands Standardization Institute. More than 250 individuals representing farmer organizations, governments, private companies, and others came together, including ACDI/VOCA staff, to draft the guidelines and address the lack of professionalism among many farmer organizations, despite their enormous role in the global economy.

Standardization will go a long way toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (“Zero Hunger”) by helping farmer organizations operate more professionally. The guidelines set forth by IWA 29 focus on business management and leadership skills. Over time, those skills will set forth smallholder farmers on a path toward better productivity, financial gains, and access to markets.

Read an overview of IWA 29 from AMEA, and find the complete IWA 29 on the ISO Online Browsing Platform, or through your ISO National Standards Body.