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Manuals | June 28, 2022

Organizing and Managing Farmers' Groups

A SMART Skills Manual

Getting organized is vital for small-scale farmers in developing countries. On their own, individual farm families can do little to improve their livelihoods: they lack the capital, skills, experience and scale to solve problems, invest, market or innovate.

But if they work together, they become strong. Together they can save enough to invest in their enterprises; they can identify and exploit opportunities; they can learn from each other and build their skills; they can analyze problems and find solutions.

This manual shows how field agents, extension workers and program managers can help farmers get organized. The 17 lessons, available in English, French and Spanish, cover the following topics:

  • Why work with groups, and the role of the group promoter
  • How to start working with farmers in communities and help them get organized
  • How to help them plan and implement activities
  • How to deal with communication and networking issues

Each lesson includes guidelines, field exercises to do with a group of farmers and quizzes to test your understanding.

This is one manual in a series on SMART Skills—the skills that field agents need to help farmers in developing countries improve their livelihoods.



For CRS staff

For CRS implementing partners  




Exercise 1: Working with groups
Exercise 2: The role of the group promoter
Exercise 3a: Gathering information about the community 
Exercise 3b: Identifying your target group 

Exercise 4a: Choosing possible entry points and group types

Exercise 4b: Visioning

Exercise 4c: Creating the group (includes member registration sheet)
Exercise 5: Participation
Exercise 6a: Leadership styles and qualities
Exercise 6b: Leaders' tasks
Exercise 6c: Electing the management committee
Exercise 7: Drawing up a constitution
Exercise 8: Holding a meeting
Exercise 9: Keeping records
Exercise 10: Financial management

Exercise 11a: Problem analysis chart 
Exercise 11b: Action planning
Exercise 12: Implementing the plan
Exercise 13: Monitoring
Exercise 14: Resolving conflicts
Exercise 15: Communication
Exercise 16: Helping groups to grow
Exercise 17: Second-order associations