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1 Advocacy and Lobbying Facttsheett Number 5 Advocacy and Lobbying can be very effective methods to ensure that farmer s interests are not marginalized or ignored by empowering them to participate in the formulation of public policies. Advocacy allows organizations to promote their causes through educating the public and policymakers, conducting research, media campaigns, lobbying, and many other activities. The purpose of this pamphlet is to provide information about what advocacy and lobbying are, discuss the relevance of these topics to farmers organizations, provide examples of successful advocacy and lobbying activities in the Caribbean and outline effective strategies to consider when developing your own campaigns. 1

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3 Table of Contents Definitions of advocacy and lobbying...4 Why are advocacy and lobbying important for farmer s organisations?...5 Successful advocacy and lobbying case studies from the Caribbean...7 Developing effective advocacy and lobbying strategies...10 Implementing effective advocacy and lobbying strategies...13 Summary and further information

4 Definitions Advocacy can be defined as a deliberate process aimed at influencing public policy decision makers through sound strategies that will empower citizens. The term advocacy encompasses a wide range of activities including lobbying, media campaigns, and publishing research. There are two main forms of lobbying: direct lobbying and grassroots lobbying. Direct lobbying can be understood as a form of advocacy that is done by a group of people with the aim to persuade or convince government representatives to take a specific position on a particular piece of legislation. Grassroots lobbying is an attempt to influence legislation by stating a position to the general public and asking the public to contact legislators or other government representatives to support this position. Lobbying can be done in a number of ways including writing letters, conducting face-toface meetings and holding public rallies. 4

5 Why are advocacy and lobbying important for farmers organizations? If organizations are able to assemble and communicate information effectively to the right audience, advocacy and lobbying can have a significant impact on policy. One of the primary functions of a farmers organization is to advocate for change in order to ensure that the policy environment is favorable for the farmers to do business. As such, understanding how to undertake advocacy and lobbying activities effectively is important to the overall effectiveness of a farmers organization and its ability to ensure its member s voices are heard by decision makers in the formulation of public policies. Understanding how to undertake advocacy and lobbying activities effectively is important to the overall effectiveness of a farmers organization 5

6 It is important to remember that politicians also have something to gain by working with farmers because they are also voters It is important that farmers organizations have strong networks as farmers are often marginalized in society and lack voice on matters of public interest. Additionally, the agriculture sector is highly vulnerable to external shocks such as natural disasters, there are a large proportion of farmers who live in poverty, and farmers often have small units of land and, therefore, less economic and political power. Networks enable farmers to unite, increase their collective power and influence and advocate more effectively for public policies that adequately address the unique challenges faced by farmers. It is imperative that CARICOM member countries lobby their governments and advocate for change at a national level in order to strengthen and support effective change at a regional level. It is also important to remember that politicians also have something to gain by working with farmers, particularly if they are members of a network, because they are also voters. 6

7 Successful Advocacy and Lobbying Case Studies from the Caribbean The following section will provide some examples of successful lobbying and advocacy activities undertaken by organizations in the Caribbean region. It is intended to demonstrate what has been achieved and, therefore, what may be possible through advocacy and lobbying. 7

8 Creating Sustainable Linkages to the Tourism Sector in St. Lucia Through its Market Access Initiative, which began in 2003, Oxfam GB collaborated with the Belle Vue Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd., the Caribbean Policy Development Centre, ECTAD, the Windward Islands Farmers Association, and key private and public sector organizations to foster linkages between agriculture and tourism St. Lucia. One of the key objectives of the initiative was to establish a policy framework that linked agriculture, tourism and small farmer operations in a manner that was equitable and beneficial to national stakeholders. The main policy outcomes of the project include: Tourism and agriculture policy was put in place that incorporated many of the recommendations developed through discussions facilitated between farmers and representatives from of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture. The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture and the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association developed a policy for marketing more agroproduce to hotels. In 2005, a representative from the Belle Vue Farmers Cooperative was appointed to the Board of Management of the St. Lucia Marketing Board by the government. 8

9 Establishing a Presence as a Premier Farmers Organization in the Caribbean Since 2002, the Caribbean Farmer s Network (CaFAN) has worked to promote the voice and causes of farmer s in the Caribbean. Through the dissemination of information via workshops, meetings, newsletters, , and its website, CaFAN has established and strengthened a network of farmers and farmer s organizations in the Caribbean region. It has since been elected to serve on several regional committees including CARICOM and CDEME. Improving Access Roads in Trinidad and Tobago The Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT, in partnership with The Agricultural Access Road Rehabilitation Programme, has been able to pull together the farmer s groups in the country and persuade the government to provide more support for the agriculture sector. Currently, the government has allocated funds to ASTT who was then able to improve access roads. The rehabilitated roads will enable farmers to transport their crops and carry out their livelihood with greater ease and efficiency. 9

10 Developing Effective Advocacy and Lobbying Strategies The following are key questions that will aid in the development of an effective advocacy strategy; however, it is intended as a guide so is not comprehensive and not all of the questions will be relevant or appropriate to a particular situation. Context What is the policy environment? What policies are currently in place? What are the policy making structures and processes What are the relevant timelines? What are the political opportunities for change (e.g. elections, summits or conferences?) Are there any overarching economic, political or social processes and trends? Identify and analyse power structures Which individuals or organizations make key decisions? Which individuals or organizations have the power to influence these decision-makers? What is the relationship between the organisation, its members and those who have a role in the decision making process? How can members get involved directly? 10

11 Stages of the Policy Process Issue What is the issue? How does advocacy on this issue relate to the organization s mission? How important is this issue to the organization s members? Will addressing this issue make a real difference in the member s lives? Who are the stakeholders? Are there potential partners or opponents? What is the level of public awareness on this issue? Objectives What needs to change to address the issue (e.g. laws, policies, practices)? What are the barriers to change? What are long-term objectives for policy change? What are the long-term outcomes or results trying to be achieved? Is our objective realistic and attainable? 11

12 Poorly planned strategies are a key obstacle to effective advocacy campaigns. Identify critical policy stages agenda setting, formulation and implementation and the engagement mechanisms that are most appropriate for each stage. Strategy Communication what is the message? What evidence do you have to support your message? Is the source perceived as credible? How will you appeal to the audience? Who is the audience? Who do you need to educate or persuade in order to be successful? e.g. media, policymakers, executives, the general public How can the message best be delivered? Who should deliver it? Who can you partner with and when can they be involved? How will you manage the resources required to undertake the advocacy campaign (e.g. staff, funding)? How will you evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy? 12

13 Implementing Effective Advocacy and Lobbying Strategies This section provides guidance on useful elements to consider when implementing advocacy and lobbying strategies. Preparation Develop a public policy agenda Identify roles and responsibilities of key personnel within the organisation As effective lobbying and advocacy often depend on building strategic relationships, you must identify within the target audience who you should engage with and to what degree 13

14 Become a Voice for your Cause Attend meetings and events of other groups working on similar public policy issues Become a source of reliable information Begin building relationships with policymakers Inform and educate the public. Write an article for your next newsletter or pamphlet about a policy issue and how it may affect your organisation. Increase and Sustain your Advocacy Arrange face-to-face meetings Use the telephone Write a letter a well written letter can often be more effective than sending an Offer to provide a one hour briefing of the organisation s programmes to key members of your intended audience Share information and be inclusive in decision-making Build relationships with the media and keep them informed when appropriate Initiate grassroots support Engage the public Communicate the interests of participants Seek out and facilitate the involvement of disadvantaged groups and those potentially affected Involve participants in defining how they participate Provide participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way 14

15 Summary and Further Information Advocacy and lobbying can have a significant impact on policy and create a more favorable environment for farmer s to operate in. This has been demonstrated in the cases of linkages between farmers and the tourism sector in St. Lucia, the establishment of CaFAN in the Caribbean region, and the improvement of access roads in Trinidad and Tobago. Effective advocacy strategies: understand the context, issue, have clearly defined objectives and well formulated strategies; understand the operation of the policy making system, how it works and where decisions are made; and, are adequately prepared, make their position heard, inform and educate all relevant stakeholders, and utilize all appropriate channels to generate support. For more information see: Caribbean Policy Development Centre, Alliance for Justice, The Communication Initiative Network, Advocacy Tips for Nonprofits, 15

16 Caribbean Farmers Network c/o Eastern Caribbean Trading Agriculture Development Organization (ECTAD) P.O. Box 827, Beachmont, Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines or Tel: (784) Fax: (784) This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural cooperation (CTA) However, the views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of CTA 0

Jethro T. Greene Chief Coordinator Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) Tel:

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