Democratizing and empowering the rural world
The network of chambers of agriculture in Togo
Koffi KINIKPOR, February 1999
Dialogues, propositions, histoires pour une citoyenneté mondiale (DPH)
This sheet describes the establishment of chambers of agriculture in Togo, and the necessary linkage of the various actors from rural territories to national and international bodies. The rural world thus becomes « master » of its own development.
How to democratize and empower the rural world?
This question has been posed with acuity since the political independence of African countries in the 1960s. It remains a concern at the dawn of the 21st century, if we know that the rural sector still occupies more than 60% of the population in African countries. This is the case in Togo. According to a definition made in 1992 during the national meeting on agriculture and land tenure in Togo, democratization and empowerment of the rural world are seen as a process leading to the creation of conditions necessary for the self-determination of the rural world and its empowerment.
Thus, democratization should contribute to freeing the peasant from the grip of the State and other stakeholders, in particular by placing him in the position of a full partner and not an object. Democratization implies the responsibility of the rural world at all levels, particularly in terms of policy definition, planning, programming, implementation and evaluation. In short, the rural world will have to be in a position to assume full responsibility for its own development. Among the measures that can facilitate this democratization and empowerment of the rural world, is the establishment of structures to represent and defend the interests of this sector, such as the Chambers of Agriculture. With regard to these chambers of agriculture, the situation in Togo was unsatisfactory, if not confused, until 1998: until then, there was no autonomous chamber of agriculture in the country.
In colonial times, a « Chamber of Commerce » was created in Lomé in 1921, run mainly by European merchants and a few Togolese « evolués. In the 1950s, this chamber of commerce was transformed into the « Chamber of Commerce of Agriculture and Industry of Togo » (CCAIT). (CCAIT). Despite this reassuring name, the « Agriculture » section of this Chamber included only a few large farmers and landowners. The vast majority of the Togolese rural population was not represented. This injustice, this marginalization of the vast majority of Togo’s peasants, has continued for nearly forty years after the country’s independence. But in the meantime, voices have been raised to denounce this situation and to demand the detachment and the establishment of an autonomous Chamber of Agriculture. This situation is in the process of finding a happy ending since 1998. Indeed, with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Togo has just set up not only an autonomous Chamber of Agriculture, but also a decentralized national network of 5 regional Chambers of Agriculture (one chamber for each of the 5 major regions of the country). A national office elected by the regional Chambers ensures the coordination of activities as well as their representation at the national and international levels. The establishment of the national network of Chambers of Agriculture of Togo is the result of a bottom-up communication and consultative process, which allowed the election of representatives at the village, township, prefecture, regional and national levels. With the support of a FAO consultant and specialized national services, this process of communication, consultation and launching was completed in approximately one year, from the end of 1997 to the end of 1998. This new Togolese experience of the Chambers of Agriculture is to be adopted and constantly improved in order to truly represent the rural world.
Objectives of the Togolese Regional Chambers of Agriculture
The Regional Chambers of Agriculture of Togo created by the Law N° 97-12 of July 9, 1997 are notably in charge of
Representing and promoting agriculture, particularly through the press and other media
Informing, training and advising nationals and members
Presenting opinions on ways to increase the development and ownership of agricultural activities
To designate, at the request of the public authorities, representatives to any commissions formed for the study of agricultural problems
Participate in economic surveys and assist in certain agricultural events such as fairs, exhibitions, etc.
The Regional Chambers of Agriculture are notably consulted for regulations relating to agricultural practices. The opinions and wishes are the subject of a deliberation taken by the general assembly of the Chamber.
Organization of the Regional Chambers of Agriculture of Togo
The regional Chambers of Agriculture shall be composed of members elected as follows
Each village, meeting in a village agricultural assembly, designates three representatives for the following sectors of activity, according to local custom: agriculture, livestock, fishing, forestry and market gardening.
All the representatives of the villages thus designated shall meet and constitute at the level of the canton a « consular assembly of the canton » which shall designate from among its members three « consular delegates of the canton ".
All the consular delegates of the Cantons meet at the chief town of the Prefecture to form a « consular assembly of the Prefecture ». This assembly elects from among its members, by secret ballot, persons who are members of the Regional Chamber of Agriculture.
In addition to the members elected as indicated above, the regional chambers also include representatives of the Professional Agricultural Organizations (one elected representative per Prefecture). The number of elected members composing each Regional Chamber of Agriculture is fixed by an Order of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Etat généraux de l’Agriculture et du foncier au Togo, March 6, 1992, FAO
OLADOKOUN W. 2013. Etats généraux du foncier togolais, harmonisation des pratiques foncières et domaniales dans les politiques sectorielles au Togo, Laboratoire de Recherche sur la Dynamique des Milieux et des Sociétés (LARDYMES), Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines (FLESH), Université de Lomé
GARED (Action and Research Group on Environment and Development)
To go further
Etats Généraux du Foncier du Togo, Opening speech by the Prime Minister, Lomé, January 22, 2013
Report on National Progress in Implementing the World Food Summit Plan of Action, prepared for the 30th Session of the Committee on World Food Security: Togo, 2004
Website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
To go further : International urban food network (IUFN)