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Organizing and Managing Groups

posted May 26, 2011, 12:04 PM by Andrea Bohn
     by Catholic Relief Services  
A functional farmer group ready for agroenterprise is one that has basic capabilities and procedures for internal democratic management. These include how to develop a shared vision, define common objectives, build mutual trust and responsibility, resolve conflict and sustain learning. The development of these skills builds solid groups.

Learner Objectives

Following the course, the field agent will be able to:
  • Explain the most important characteristics of a strong and cohesive farmer group
  • Design and implement with farmers an action plan to establish a new or strengthen an existing farmer group
  • Put into place a process for monitoring and evaluating that permits farmer groups assess their progress in meeting their objectives and make adjustments to improve their performance.

Sections and Lessons

This course is made up of 2 Sections and a total of 11 lessons.

Section 1. Essential characteristics of strong and cohesive farmer groups

Lesson 1. Leadership and management. Identifies effective leadership and management qualities and skills so that individuals and groups can make the most informed decisions to meet their unique needs and situations.
Lesson 2. Participation and inclusion. Seeks to achieve effective group functioning by fostering participation among group members; emphasizes inclusion of marginalized or traditionally excluded groups, participation of old and youth, and those reticent to play an active role.
Lesson 3. Good governance and the constitution. Establishes good practices for group governance; examines different ways of how decisions can be made; decides and prepares a constitution that defines a group’s goal, objectives and internal rules and regulations.
Lesson 4. Identifying opportunities, planning and evaluation. Identifies opportunities for meeting group objectives, develops a vision of the future, analyses the present situation and the steps needed to attain the vision and the resources required; defines the indicators by which progress toward the vision will be measured by the group.
Lesson 5. Negotiation for managing conflict and making deals. Explains the importance of negotiation for obtaining group objectives; defines the 5 steps in successful negotiation: planning a position, setting rules, explaining interests, bargaining and reaching agreement, making commitment and formalizing the agreement.
Lesson 6. Networking and building relationships. Illustrates the usefulness of building relationships with individuals and institutions for improving the performance of the group through accessing new skills, obtaining information and new knowledge, identifying new opportunities, etc.

Section 2. The farmer group building process

Lesson 1. Sensitizing farmer groups. For existing groups: illustrates the methods and tools for sensitizing farmers to the importance of examining and improving their performance as a group; for new groups: explains the advantages of groups for achieving individual and collective objectives.
Lesson 2. Assessing needs. Examines the present situation of the farmers, identifies strengths and opportunities, weaknesses and threats with respect to each of the essential group management characteristics.
Lesson 3. Developing a plan of action for group establishment or strengthening. For existing groups: prepares an action plan to address the weaknesses identified in group performance; for new groups: prepares an action plan to establish a group, develop a constitution, define roles and responsibilities, and plan how to reach the group’s vision.
Lesson 4. Implementing the action plan. Provides the elements of good practice that the group should follow during each stage of action plan implementation.
Lesson 5. Monitoring and evaluation. Develops a set of appropriate indicators, relevant to the group members themselves, to support group consolidation and growth.

This is Module 2 of the course suite on

"Preparing Farmer Groups
to Engage Successfully with Markets"

This module is intended for face-to-face delivery.
  • The course material, additional resources, and assessment tool will be attached below.
  • The video lecture will be made available at
    Simply set up a free account, place the course in your cart and get started! The courses are offered free of charge.

Expected Completion Date

End of September 2011


These courses are developed for field agents that facilitate community agricultural development processes and impart knowledge and skills to smallholder farmers and other rural actors on how to produce profitably and sustainably.

Learning Objectives of the Course Suite

After receiving this set of courses, the field agent will be able to plan and implement a series of inter-related trainings to build farmer and other rural actors’ skills in 5 critical areas for successful engagement with markets.

Key References for This Module

  • FAO. 1997. The Group Promoter’s Resource Book. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy
  • FAO. 2001. A Guide to Building Small Farmer Group Associations and Networks. The Intergroup Resource Book. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy
  • IIED. Appreciative Inquiry for Rural Development. International Institute for Environment and Development. London, UK.

Time Required to Teach This Module

Each lesson in the two sections is designed to be taught in sessions of 2 hours or less, for a maximum of 12 hours for Section 1 and 10 hours for Section 2.