The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently approved the proposal for an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) to establish the global definition for professional farmer organizations. The process was initiated by AMEA (Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance). All stakeholders working in the agribusiness sector are invited to participate in the co-creation of this definition. Participation is open to everyone and stakeholders who wish to take part in the process are invited to review the full draft definition and submit comments online by registering at NEN/ISO registration form.

Defining what it means to be a professional farmer organization will provide market actors, capacity builders, donors, commodity certification schemes, regulators and other stakeholders with a common language and understanding around required capacities of farmer organizations and needs for improvement.

This common language will clarify which professional development gaps must be addressed to accelerate the commercial orientation of farmer organizations, improve their access to markets and finance and, in the long, term enhance the resilience of supply chains and improve livelihoods. This will lead to streamlined and focused efforts within the capacity development sector and an informed and sustainable development of farmer organizations.

Common language

Alan Johnson, chair of the AMEA board and senior operations officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) explains: “Reaching an IWA on what constitutes a professional farmer organization will be a huge step forward for all stakeholders working in agribusiness in emerging markets. The IWA helps create a common language for all of us supporting the transition of smallholder farming from semi-subsistence to farming as a business”.

Coming together

The participation of a diverse group of stakeholders is crucial for the success of this process. Joanne Sonenshine says: “Coming together as diverse stakeholders to support the future of farming by ensuring fair and equitable access to finance, markets and investment are critical now more than ever. Developing a mutually agreed-upon and internationally recognized definition for professionalization in the agricultural sector, as is the case in many other working environments, will allow for more efficient, collaborative and impactful engagement among the populations that need investment most.”

For more information on the global definition and the IWA process, please contact Martina Torma, AMEA marketing and communications coordinator at – Press release