Alberto Monterroso: Small producer agency in the globalised market

Alberto is director of the non-governmental organisation Organización para la Promoción Comercial y la Investigación (OPCION) in Guatemala, where he works on rural development — researching and implementing approaches to strengthen the organisational, productive and commercial capacities of small-scale farmers in Central America. He is also president of Comercializadora Aj Ticonel, a company that produces, packages and exports vegetables to Central American, US and European markets.

Two years ago, I was invited to join a global learning network to combine action research and learning on some of the critical challenges facing small-scale producers in globalised markets.

I was keen to get involved — both to contribute the results of my fifteen years experience working with smallholders in Central America and to harness the expertise of others working in this field elsewhere.

The network links people from different regions. We live in different realities but it has become clear that we face the same challenges. The problems hindering the development of Guatemalan indigenous producers — limited access to markets, lack of technology and precarious conditions — are similarly thwarting small-scale producers in Kenya or Uganda.

By sharing knowledge and experience, all members of the learning group gain fresh perspectives for change. Alberto Monterroso

By sharing knowledge and experience, all members of the learning group gain fresh perspectives for change. During a meeting last year in Fort Portal, Uganda, we met local farmers and not only discussed the challenges they face, but more importantly shared how we have overcome them.

The network also provides a critical platform for broader impact at home. Through it, I am working to build a new consensus in Central America about how governments can best support smallholders. Part of that includes campaigning for a Central American fund, supported by individual governments, to provide financial support for small-scale farmers. This is a clear example where the network is already beginning to contribute a wealth of practical knowledge, and where the strength of working together on the same topic really comes into its own.

Online extra

Alberto Monterroso reflects on his experience with the global learning network on small producer agency in the globalised market

 

Internal links

Small producer agency in the globalised market

A Global Learning Network at work

Making markets work for small-scale farmers? A series of ‘provocation’ seminars