Note for a CGIAR Challenge Program
Linking Smallholder Farmers
to Growth Markets
is undergoing a rapid transformation, away from a
supply driven agricultural production focus, towards
a market-driven "agrifood" orientation.
The impact of this change, on people, economies and
the natural environment is, and will continue to be,
profound. The change has particular implications for
smallholder farmers in developing countries. Linking
these farmers to growth markets, and retaining a proportion
of the value added through post-harvest processing
and marketing activities in the rural areas where
agricultural raw materials are produced, offers a
real option for improving the welfare of the rural
Several options exist for smallholder
communities in developing economies to:
and market higher value crops/livestock, especially
those where scale economies are less pronounced;
· add value to primary production through on-farm
or rural processing, packaging, branding and other
· associate with other farmers to overcome
scale disadvantages and gain market power;
· seek to differentiate away from "commodities"
towards "products" targeted at higher value
market segments, including alternative, ethical and
organic markets that value more sustainable production
· develop long-term equitable relationships
with agrifood enterprises closer to the end customer
(larger processors, retailers etc).
small farmers in developing countries to build on
these options requires making difficult and different
types of decisions. These will be based on new sorts
and sources of information (on market demands, for
example) and require different sets of skills, technologies
and resources to those needed for traditional commodity
the globalising world economy offers opportunities
as well as threats to the small-scale, resource poor
farmer. Identifying and realising the opportunities
will generally not occur by default. Society has a
role to play in enhancing the capacity of the rural
poor in developing countries to take advantage of
the opportunities offered by global economic integration
and in putting into place mechanisms that reduce the
threats that will lead to their further marginalisation.
The objective of the proposed challenge program is
to contribute to improved livelihoods, food security
and sustainable development in developing countries
through the execution of dynamic post-harvest interventions
that equitably link smallholder farmers to growth
major areas within the post-harvest field, where collaborative
research and development can make a difference in
helping small farmers and small rural agroenterprises
in developing countries benefit from the changes in
the agrifood sector, have been identified:
Improve the identification of market opportunities,
so that farmers and enterprises can become more competitive
in a market-oriented environment and able to make
sound business decisions by identifying and developing
market opportunities for agrifood based products (but
not at the expense of environmental or social sustainability).
Improve market access, by integrating farmers and
small rural enterprises with agrifood supply chains
that go beyond the local economy, under terms that
are equitable as well as competitive, supported by
affordable, sustainable and effective local business
Foster technology innovation, enabling local communities
to become more innovative in accessing, developing
and applying appropriate post-harvest technologies
to produce the products demanded by the market.
Enhance product quality, so as to consistently meet
regulatory standards and consumer demands for high
quality, safe food products in their target markets
(with corresponding implications at policy level).
The 'Linking Farmers to Markets' Program is aimed
at ensuring that rural people, enterprise and communities
in the developing world have access to information,
technologies, methods and tools to help them make
the right choices when confronted by new market opportunities.
The specific comparative advantage of a global program
lies in its ability to undertake cross continent analysis
of experiences, provide information of a global nature
on markets and trade relevant to all stakeholders
and catalysing a coordinated effort to R&D interventions
in post-harvest research and enterprise development.
principal outputs from the Program will be:
Methods for rapid analysis of market demand and supply,
spatial analysis of market opportunities, and for
analysing the feasibility of business plans based
on different levels of investment from clients.
· Methodologies for enhancing access to market
information and market intelligence services by farmers
and rural enterprises.
· Options for organisational structures and
relationships between actors that enhance local innovation
and result in greater and more equitably distributed
benefits through the supply chain for agrifood products.
· Options for the organisation and the sustainable
improvement, in content and delivery, of business
development services to small rural agroenterprises.
· Post-harvest technologies that enable smallholders
to capitalise on market opportunities, improve competitiveness
and adhere to food quality and safety standards.
· Information and decision support tools for
introducing or improving post-harvest techniques and
technologies at the local level.
· Quality and safety assurance methodologies
that can be applied in developing countries by small
and medium-scale enterprises.
· Quality and safety objectives for local regulatory
systems in developing countries and feasible quality/safety
targets for supply chain actors.
medium- to long-term impact of these outputs will
Strengthened capacity of government and non-government
organizations to establish profitable and environmentally
sound agricultural enterprises that link smallholder
farmers with growth markets.
· On-farm and off-farm income and employment
opportunities generated for men and women in rural
communities in developing countries that contribute
to the alleviation of poverty.
· Reduced rural to urban migration, reduced
incentive for the production of illicit crops and
motivation to conserve biodiversity, soil and water
resources upon which rural communities depend.
The World Bank's Sector Strategy for Rural Development
(World Bank, 1997) identifies the task of strengthening
the linkage of rural and urban economies through the
food, feed and fibre commodity systems as 'essential
for fostering growth across the national economy and
sustainable growth of the rural economy'. Although
critical for the sustainability of income generation
in the rural sector, the post-harvest handling and
processing, and trading and retailing components of
these commodity systems have received scant attention
and a low level of investment in terms of public R&D
funds. The need for a global initiative around the
theme of 'linking farmers to markets' was proposed
during the annual meeting of the global post-harvest
forum, PhAction, which was held in Eschborn in 2000.
Since that meeting, a process has been put in train
to identify needs and demands, and develop a coherent
set of interrelated R&D themes that address the
opportunities and constraints in the post-harvest
and marketing sector. Needs and priorities are being
identified through a series of regional consultations
on post-harvest needs and priorities sponsored by
GFAR and FAO. Concurrently, planning meetings with
potential project partners have been held in Hanoi
and Montpellier, in April and June 2001 respectively,
in order to develop the priority R&D themes that
are outlined above. At the CGIAR AGM in October 2001,
the progress in this process was reported to actual
and potential stakeholders at a lunchtime meeting.
The 'Linking Farmers to Markets' Program will be executed
by a consortium of institutions that include members
PhAction and their partners in developing and developed
countries. The current members of PhAction include:
5 Future Harvest Centers: CIAT, CIP, IITA, IRRI, IFPRI.
6 International Research and Technical Assistance
institutions: NRI, CIRAD, JIRCAS, ICFR, FAO, GTZ
1 Donor: ACIAR
Institutions that have intimated interest in being
associated with the Global Program include: ISNAR,
PRODAR-IICA, SEARCA, ASARECA (Foodnet), EMBRAPA (Brazil),
teams will be formed around the four prioritised R&D
themes. These teams are likely to have a larger number
of participating organisations, including major international
NGOs and representation of private sector retailing
Funding and funding allocation
financial resource requirements of the Program are
estimated at US$ 10 million per year over a period
of 10 years, of which approximately US$ 4 million
per year would be counterpart resources from partner
The Consortium will have joint ownership and responsibility
for the program and provide leadership in the four
key theme areas. The CGIAR Executive Council will
provide oversight. An advisory committee, with representatives
of major stakeholder groups and including GFAR, will
provide orientation on needs assessment, priority
setting, relevance and quality of science. The committee
will delegate to special panels those areas that they
consider of critical importance to the achievement
of the Program's objectives.