Category Archives: AFA News

AFFM trains farmer members on mushroom production

With increasing demand from restaurants and wholesalers, mushroom holds a lot of potential for small farmers in Myanmar.

Last May 6, farmers from Tedim township farmers unions involving 10 villages in Chin underwent a training on mushroom growing.

The training was organized by AFFM and its partner NEED, with Executive Director Khaing Dhu Wan as facilitator.

The one-day training allowed the farmers to learn about permarculture ethic and principles and sustainable agriculture livelihood security.

“This practical agricultural training is very important because farmers lack technical knowledge on how to grow straw mushroom or other mushroom varieties, how to produce them for the market, and how to add value to their agricultural products,” AFFM staff Tichia Pan said.

Mushroom is beneficial to farmers as a source of quick income .

On the other hand, farmers also need to learn how to form production clusters for different commodities like rice, beans, coffee and tea.

These can be the subject for a future training.

(With report and photos from Tichia Pan of AFFM)

Click here for more photos


Aliansi Petani Indonesia to work for greater self-sufficiency and sustainability

In a national leaders meeting held on April 21-23 in Jakarta, Aliansi Petani Indonesia formulated strategic actions to keep the farmer organization self-sufficient, sustainably managed and regenerated.

The meeting was attended by 21 member organizations of API from 14 provinces.

A coffee cupping session was also organized on the evening of the first day, where participants tasted different coffee varieties from famous places in the country and learned about methods to manage coffee beans to get a fair price in the market.

(Photos and report from Ika Krishnayanti)


AFA Vice Chairperson receives prestigious RTV award in Bangladesh

Ms. Shazada Begum, President of Kendrio Krishak Moitree (KKM) and Vice President of the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA), has been been honored with the “RTV Alokito Nari 2017″ (Enlightened Woman) award.

This is one of the most prestigious awards in Bangladesh that honors change makers like Shazada.

The private satellite TV channel RTV honored eight enlightened women marking International Women’s Day 2017.

The programme was held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre last March 9 and the title of the programme was “Joya Alokito Nari- 2017.”

In the eight categories, eight enlightened women received awards for their contribution and they are Professor Mahfuza Khanam (Education), Farida Parvin (Music), Shujata Azim (Acting, Film), Luna Samsuddin (IT), DIG Mili Biswas (Police), Shazada Begum (Agriculture),  Jubera Rahman Lini(Sports) and Sawkat Naznin Khan (Youth).

“RTV Alokito Nari” award has been going on since 2013 and this is first time they listed agriculture as one of the categories.

(With report and photos from ActionAid Bangladesh)

Capitalizing bitter bamboo group experience and improving marketing of bitter bamboo shoots (Lao Farmer Network)

Non-timber forest products such as bamboo shoots are a very important food and source of income for farmers in rural areas of Laos. Sustainable management of bamboo is important for food security, and improvement of the bamboo value chain can help increase incomes for rural people. That is why the Lao Farmer Network (LFN), a national farmer platform in the country, is highly interested in capitalizing the experiences of its member, the bitter bamboo group, in managing the forest and marketing their products.

Bitter bamboo is a unique type of bamboo that is available in a few areas in Laos such as Hoaphan and Oudomxay provinces. The shoots are harvested in December to March when they are still underground. Once the shoots have grown above the surface, they start to taste very bitter. So, farmers harvest the shoots while they are still small and underground.

lfn bitter bamboo 02

The bitter bamboo group of Nampheng village, Namor district, Oudomxay province has more than a decade of experience in collectively managing their resources as well as marketing bamboo shoots. Through sustainable practices, the forest area has been maintained and villagers are enjoying reliable harvest and incomes.

The group has very strict rules that allow villagers to harvest the shoots only from December to end of March, after which the group declares the close of the forest. The group also bans the use of hoe to avoid damage to the bamboo. Young trees are protected while older trees that are more than 3 years old are allowed to be cut.

In terms of marketing, all villagers have to sell the shoots to the group. The group has a contract with a buyer who gives money upfront. The members get their money right away from the group once the shoots have been delivered to the group. Regarding the trader selection, the group makes the decision based on offers from different buyers. For this year, a trader in the nearest town got the contract because he offers a higher price and also lives near the group.

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Regarding the price, the trader gives 5,500 Kip/Kg, the member receives 5,200 Kip/Kg, and the group keeps 300 Kip/Kg for the revolving fund. The fund is used for community work and for credit.

LFN is not only capitalizing this experience, but is actually now helping the group to access markets in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. The network will support the group to pilot the marketing of 1 ton of shoots to some markets in Vientiane. The price in Vientiane varies from 10,000-15,000 Kip/Kg, three times higher than what villagers are getting now. The process of this piloting will be documented, and the results will be shared in the next couple of months.

The capitalizing activity is funded by AsiaDHRRA while the piloting of the market in Vientiane is funded by LURAS, a Swiss-funded development program.

Lao Farmer Network (LFN) is a member of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA).

For more information, contact Phoutthasinh Phimachanh (

AFA crafts 5-year operations plan

In its 7th general assembly held in Hanoi, Vietnam last August 2016, AFA approved a five-year strategic plan which prioritizes 5 agenda: (1) secured rights to lands, waters, forests, pastures and seeds; (2) sustainable and resilient agriculture in farms and forested landscapes; (3) cooperative and enterprise development; (4) women; and, (5) youth empowerment.

Last December 3-4, 2016, the AFA members met to work on the details of the strategic plan through an operational planning.

Through a participatory method, the members worked on each agenda to flesh out what AFA wants to achieve in the next five years and what key activities it will carry out in organizing/networking, capacity building, advocacy, KM/M&E, and resource mobilization.

Present during the meeting were API (Indonesia), PAKISAMA (Philippines), FNN and FWN (Cambodia), LFN (Laos), AFFM (Myanmar), VNFU (Vietnam), NLRF and CTCF (Nepal), NAMAC (Mongolia), UWUA (Kyrgyztan), NADF (Tajikistan), AINOUKAI (Japna) and TWADA (Taiwan).

In the business meeting that followed, the 5 year operations plan and the 2017 annual plan were also approved.

FOs, coops, CSOs, agri agencies hold workshop to strengthen agri coops in Asia


More than 70 representatives from farmer organizations, cooperatives, civil society organizations and agri-agencies gathered in Sulo Hotel, Quezon City, Philippines on December 1-2 to discuss priorities, strategies and actions for strengthening agricultural cooperatives in Asia.

The workshop was a follow up to the 6th ASEAN Cooperative Business Forum (ACBF) held on November 29-30 in Novotel, Quezon City, Philippines, where government, CSO, farmer and cooperative representatives pledge to support the development and strengthening of agri coops in the region as vehicles for inclusive development.

The event was organized by AFA, PAKISAMA, AsiaDHRRA, We Effect and CSA, with support from OXFAM, AFOSP-MTCP2, EU, IFAD, SDC and FAO’s FFF.

A total of 77 participants from 14 Asian countries and 4 European countries joined the event.

The specific objectives of the workshop were to: 1) appreciate the role of agricultural cooperatives; b) share and learn from successful experiences of managing agri coops; and, c) formulate concrete strategies and an operations plan for strengthening agri cooperatives in Asia in the next five years, with focus on the sub regions (SEA, SAARC).

Participants gathered lessons learned from the experiences of successful agricultural cooperatives in Asia like Ja Zenchu in Japan and NACF in South Korea, NCC in sri Lanka, as well as IFFCO in India and FPSDC and SIDC in the Philippines.

They also reflected on the role of agri coops in achieving SDGS through a presentation from ICA and envisioned possible models and structures for agri coops with input from a draft discussion paper by AFA’s agri coop program officer.

They looked at possibilities for cooperation at the regional level through a presentation from Fair Trade Asia Pacific and AFOSP-MTCP2.

Lastly, participants developed 2016-2020 strategic action plans per sub-region for AFA and non-AFA members.

PAKISAMA celebrates 30th anniversary, holds 9th congress

PAKISAMA 9th Congress' Delegates from Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon (c) Nonoy Villas
PAKISAMA 9th Congress’ Delegates from Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon (Photo by Nonoy Villas)

The Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary and holding its 9th congress on November 21 at the Claret Retreat House in Quezon City, Philippines with the theme “Perlas na mga Karanasan sa Tatlong Dekadang Nakaraan: Kasaysayan, Pakikibaka, Kabuhayan” (“Pearl of Experience through Past Three Decades: Ourstory, Struggle, Livelihood”).

Participating in the event are leaders and partners of PAKISAMA and its member cooperatives, associations, and federations coming from 45 provinces of the country, representing the voices of some 54,000 landless and owner-cultivators, upland farmers, marginal fishers, indigenous peoples, rural women and youth.

The event have 4 main objectives: (1) to celebrate the 30 years of experience recognizing the critical milestones of PAKISAMA; (2) to present past 3-year accomplishments (2013-2015) and to approve the strategic direction of PAKISAMA for the next 6 years (2017-2022); (3) to recognize outstanding members and partners for the past 30 years who contributed to the growth and development PAKISAMA; and (4) to elect a new set of officers that will govern PAKISAMA for the next 3 years.

The celebration includes a film presentation on PAKISAMA’s 30-year history, keynotes speech by Vice President Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo, dinner for a cause, and solidarity night and recognition of outstanding members and partners.

PAKISAMA is a national peasant confederation and movement towards the empowerment of small farmers, fishers, rural women, youth, and indigenous peoples. It envisions a humane, gender-sensitive and environmentally sound rural society where peoples control and own the basic means of production and exchange; critically and actively participate in governance; protect and care for the environment; and live the values of authentic humanism in a Philippine society characterized by justice, freedom, democracy and national sovereignty.

It is an AFA member organization in the Philippines.

Farmer organizations supported by AFOSP-MTCP2 attend KLMPE 2016

15085721_1342456459120132_9033994477495737788_n-1The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) and other farmer organizations in the Philippines supported by the ASEAN Farmers’ Organizations Support Program (AFOSP) – Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmers’ Organisations in Asia and the Pacific, Phase II (MTCP2) attended this year’s Knowledge and Learning Market that has the theme IFF+2: Engaging Development Partners Towards Sustainable Development of Smallholder/Family Farmers held at the Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) Convention Center of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Quezon City, Philippines.

The KLMPE 2016 featured an interactive learning exhibit highlighting the various IFAD-funded projects and rural developments in the Philippines, where AFA, PAKISAMA and other AFOSP-MTCP2 FOs displayed their agricultural products and knowledge materials.

There were also product demonstrations such as the one on Sweet Potato Noodles and Pandesal Making by the CIP-FoodStart and Mushroom Production by the Organic Farmers of Macabud, Rizal. Farmer participants are very happy to take advantage of these opportunities to learn new product technologies that could help them find additional source of income.

In his opening remarks, IFAD County Programme Officer Jerry Pacturan, in behalf of the 2016 Knowledge and Learning Market and Policy Engagement (KLMPE) Technical Working Group, warmly welcomed the guests and participants from all over the country to the 2016 KLMPE celebration recognizing them as partners in development. With this year’s theme of “IYFF+2: Engaging development partners toward sustainable development of smallholder/family farmers,” he emphasized that over the last decade, the KLMPE has been “a platform for knowledge sharing and learning for civil society organizations, government and development partners, and a venue for policy engagement with government policy makers and program implementers.”

Frank Roy Ribo of the Kalipunan ng Maliliit na Magniniyog ng Pilippinas (KAMMPIL), representing the AFOSP-MTCP2 FOs and the farmers sector, gave the keynote address.

A stakeholder-based policy engagement , which aimed to promote good practices of family farmers, innovations and initiatives, draw out lessons for policy dialogue-lobby and program development, and to implement and popularize knowledge products on advocating family farmers’ innovation, was staged in the afternoon of the first day.

There were breakout sessions on the themes of (1) sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition; (2) market empowerment; and (3) resource tenure. Inspiring experiences of successful smallholder farmers and advocates were championed during the policy sessions.

In the session on market empowerment for small holder farmers, successful farmer entrepreneurs shared their experiences in farming enterprises on coffee, coconut, pineapple and fisheries.

To have a grasp of the strategic actions and updates on IYFF+1, Raul Socrates Banzuela of PAKISAMA presented the Progress Updates of IYFF Action Agenda from the FOs/CSOs. He highlighted three (3) updates particularly: 1) active promotion and undertaking of climate-resilient agriculture; 2) enlargement of farmer’s power, and 3) strengthening capacity of agricultural cooperatives.

This was followed by another breakout session on ways forward which resulted in strategic directions for the next five years (2017-2022) with a more strengthened and collaborative support for smallholder/family farmers. Participants were grouped based on the sectors they belong to: farmer organizations, academes, civil service organizations, research institutions and the government.

AFA, PAKISAMA and AFOSP-MTCP2 FOs are members of the KLMPE technical working group. The AFA Secretary General synthesized day 1 and day 2 discussions, while the KM Officer contributed to social media reporting. PAKISAMA brought around 50 farmer participants to the event, while AFOSP-MTCP2 FO representatives took the lead in the breakout group on resource tenure.

The organizers for this year’s KLMPE include: IFAD, DAR, DA, AFA, AsiaDHRRA, AFOSP-MTCP2, PAKISAMA, PhilDHRRA, TRIAS Southeast Asia, and We Effect.


AFA member SEWA signs MOU with FAO


[FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and Reema Nanavaty, Director, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) at the signing ceremony. (c) FAO]

New AFA member SEWA in India has signed a memorandum of understanding last September 13 with FAO “to intensify joint efforts aimed at building the capacities of the rural poor to fully benefit from rural economies, with particular emphasis on ensuring that women and youth are engaged and empowered.” This was announced by FAO in its website and shared by SEWA to AFA in an e-mail. Read the full story from FAO below.

FAO and India’s SEWA join efforts to empower rural women and youth

New agreement aims to ensure capacity development, farmers’ access to productive resources, knowledge exchange

13 September 2016, Rome – India’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and FAO are strengthening their collaboration to boost rural development and reduce poverty in Asia and Africa via local initiatives focused on empowering rural women and youth.

Building on years of successful partnership, the two organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today to intensify joint efforts aimed at building the capacities of the rural poor to fully benefit from rural economies, with particular emphasis on ensuring that women and youth are engaged and empowered. Healthy and vibrant rural economies are an important engine that can drive improvements in food security and nutrition, according to the two organizations.

The MoU was signed by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and SEWA Director Reema Nanavaty.

“This Memorandum of Understanding will help us improve our cooperation, particularly to increase access to productive resources and services, to expand possibilities for the rural poor, and to generate knowledge about the situation of rural women and youth”, said Graziano da Silva.

Nanavaty said that in the years to come FAO and SEWA would focus their efforts on generating more employment and decent jobs, strengthening livelihoods, and making agriculture climate-resilient and climate-smart.

Scaling up joint efforts

Sharing the common objective of reducing rural poverty and ensuring food security, FAO’s and SEWA’s approaches are different yet complementary and will benefit all concerned.

While FAO contributes to improving the livelihoods of poor rural farmers through policy and programme support, setting standards and generating knowledge, SEWA aims to empower marginalized rural women and informal sector workers through grassroots campaigns and social mobilization, and ensuring their access to services.

Both organizations have agreed to broaden the scope of their cooperation not only to benefit rural women and youth in the countries where they are currently operating, but also to generate online tools and technical materials for use by other countries that face similar challenges in their efforts to reduce rural poverty.

Core areas where FAO and SEWA will work together include: promoting the exchange of experiences and knowledge between the different regions in Asia and Africa on good practices for promoting the inclusion of women and youth in rural economies; enhancing rural women’s access to financial resources and technologies; and establishing sound governance practices, gender equality measures and advocacy strategies to stimulate pro-poor policy change.

As part of their engagement, FAO and SEWA are developing an action plan designed to improve livelihoods, decision-making and the sustainability of rural populations.

Registered as a trade union in India since 1972, SEWA is a membership organization of 1.9 million poor self-employed women workers. Its primary focus is building the capacities of marginalized women farmers, while at the same time enhancing their access to financial resources and social protection mechanisms.

FAO’s Strategic Framework places strong emphasis on supporting rural communities to fight poverty, hunger and malnutrition, with a special focus on women, youth and other marginalized groups. It contributes to global standard setting and provides policy and technical programme support to countries.

Gender issues in the spotlight

Today’s MoU comes ahead of a high-level event, “Stepping It Up Together for Rural Women to End Hunger and Malnutrition,” which will take place 16 December in Rome and is being co-organized by FAO, the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission in close collaboration with key UN partners.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment issues are at the centre of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition to the stand-alone SDG 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, they are mainstreamed across all the global goals.


AFFM conducts Myanmar Farmers Forum

(c) Esther Penunia/AFA

July 24, 2016. Yangon Myanmar . The Agriculture and Farmers Federation of Myanmar (AFFM) in partnership with its mother trade union Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) and its regional farmer organization Asian Farmers Association (AFA), organized a two day national farmers forum last July 23-24, 2016 in Yangon, Myanmar. The forum brought together 150 participants from farmer leaders in all regions and states of Myanmar, partner civil society organization, and several National Parliament members and local government officials.

The forum was the largest gathering of farmers, Parliament members and partner groups since AFFM was established in 2011.

The theme of the Forum was ” From Sustainable Agriculture Development to Sustainable Economic Development”.

(c) Esther Penunia/AFA

In his opening remarks, AFFM president U Than Swe asked the Myanmar government to recognize farmers as workers and thus support them as well. ” Myanmar is an agricultural country, so agricultural development will mean development of the country as well. According to our laws, our unions are based on family -run farming industry. So we are employers, and workers. Since we can be seen as an employer, a worker or a laborer, the government has responsibility to support us financially and also to promote our rights. However, we have not yet received any concrete support from the government. Today’s farmers should be under the protection of the law. ”

U Than Swe encouraged the four parliament members in the forum to listen and understand the farmers. At the end of the forum , AFFM submitted to the parliament members Farmers’ Statements on (1) Recommendations to the existing land and forestry laws ; (2) agriculture marketing, trading and economics and (3) social security, social protection, occupational safety and health. The statements were based on the inputs of the participants during the Forum.

The national farmers’ forum aimed to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of current laws and policies that affect family farmers, to present the situation and challenges the farmers face across the different regions and states in the country, and to present some alternatives or responses to the challenges at hand. Topics discussed included farm land laws, community forestry and forestry laws, occupational safety and health, social security and social protection for agricultural sector, agricultural economics , marketing and trade, situation of women and youth in the agricultural sector.

AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia made a presentation on “Marketing Imperative of Farmers : Farmers ‘ Multi-purpose Cooperatives as Vehicles for Strengthening Market Engagement. ”

The forum was financially supported by the MTCP2 AFOSP project, with EU, IFAD and SDC as project donor partners.

AFA participates in OECD-FAO-ASEAN Conference on Policies to Enable Food Security, Agricultural Productivity and Improved Nutrition

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[OECD-FAO-ASEAN Regional Conference on Agricultural Policies to Enable Food Security, Agricultural Productivity and Improved Nutrition last June 14-15 in Nay PwiTaw, Myanmar.]

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