Last May till July Annelie Lekkerkerker stayed in Nepal for an internship for Agriterra. The aim of the internship was to develop the lobby and advocacy procedure at NACCFL (Nepal Agricultural Co-operation Central Federation Ltd.). NACCFL is the umbrella organisation of Small Farmer Agriculture Cooperative Limited (SFACL) and similar other agriculture cooperatives. She wrote a blog about her experiences.
"The first and most difficult part of my assignment was to get used of the way of working and to find out how to gather information. Secondly, I had to understand what NACCFL is doing exactly for lobby and advocacy.
Based on these analyses and information I was able of defining the follow findings:
By getting clear how NACCFL is doing lobby and advocacy, it was noticeable that this is something between the management of the NACCFL and government stakeholders. In addition, NACCFL is representing their interests towards development organisations largely by writing project proposals. Government and development organisations are the most important lobby targets for NACCFL. Logical, because they ultimately making the decisions about the policies and funds what matters to NACCFL.
Next to that, I noticed two other aspects. First, I noticed how many “Nepali citizens” NACCFL is representing. With 1026 member cooperatives and 45 district agriculture cooperative federations they are the voice for almost a million small farmers members. Second, I noticed how fast digital communication and social media is developing in Nepal.
Concluding, there are opportunities for NACCFL to make their lobby message stronger by using social media channels. Social media gives everybody a floor to share opinions or ideas, which effects the public opinion. Now the public opinion is more visible, it is more interesting for organisations and companies to pay attention on influencing the public opinion according their interest. Public opinion will help NACCFL influence their lobby targets.
Therefore I would like to recommend NACCFL to focus on an extra lobby tool to target their stakeholders: Support on social media.
The most interesting time of my internship was the time I came back in the Netherlands and started reflecting on the internship and all impressions I had. Because I was in The Netherlands, I was able to reflect and make conclusions on a more objective way, without being dragged into the whole experience. But even when I left Nepal, my thoughts where still there.
One of the conclusions that I draw is that Agriterra is really doing the right thing with supporting cooperatives through advisory services instead of financial support, especially in a country with a corrupt system as Nepal. Advice services will appeal people who really want to make a change, and those people need the support to do that.
I’ve enjoyed Nepal very much. The country has many different climatic regions, from a high mountain climate in the Himalayas to a subtropical climate along the border with India. That’s why Nepal is a very fertile land for many different types of crops, vegetables and fruit. Next to the beautiful landscapes, I also loved the lovely people who were really helpful all the time… that kind of hospitality I’ve never seen before!"