Recently International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the IWA 29 Professional Farmer Organizations – Guidelines, also described in a press release “Professional Farmer Organizations: new guidelines for a well-fed world”. IWA stands for International Workshop Agreement. An IWA has a maximum lifespan of 6 years; it will then have to be either withdrawn or developed into another ISO deliverable (possibly a full ISO standard).
In November 2018, AFC had been involved in the very productive and collaborative workshop hosted by the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN), in association with the Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance (AMEA), held in Delft, Netherlands. In the meeting, consensus was found on all 300 comments that were submitted on the IWA 29 by regional working groups.
The purpose of this document is to establish common guidelines for professional farmer organizations, in order to improve business performance. This document provides guidelines on improving the capabilities of professional farmer organizations in different areas and thereby their level of professionalism in general. More professional farmer organizations are more likely to have better business opportunities and to perform better for their members and staff, within markets and to have greater sustainability.
The IWA needs to be applicable worldwide regardless of local legislation therefore the recommendations are intended to:
- provide guidelines to improve the professionalism of farmer organizations, leading to improved performance and access to finance and markets;
- support members and staff of professional farmer organizations to supervise and hold their organizations and leadership accountable;
- increase the understanding and confidence of buyers, suppliers, investors and others doing business with professional farmer organizations;
- give direction to the actions of providers of training, assessment, advisory and other organizational and business development services;
- align the vision and interventions of stakeholders in their effort to professionalize farmer organizations;
- encourage active engagement with broader stakeholders.
The IWA, just like any ISO standard is copyrighted. Please see the rules around copyright on the ISO website. In case stakeholders would like to purchase their version of the IWA 29, they can contact their national standards organizations or the website of ISO. A free online preview is also available. There might be some upcoming discussions if donors buy the copyright for all their projects. Alternatively, national standards organizations can be contacted to ask if the IWA can be adopted as a national standard.