Relief Services - East Africa, Foodnet (IITA) and
the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)
the majority of smallholder farmers of Africa are faced
with the ever-increasing imperative to incorporate themselves
into the market economy in order to generate cash income
that will allow them to fulfill their basic needs, and thereby
improve their livelihood. These farmers have been accustomed
primarily to producing basic food staples for their own
subsistence. These commodities are of low value and have
experienced declines in their real price over the past decades
as a result of improved production technology and the high
levels of competitiveness achieved by medium to large-scale
Among the options that
smallholders have for confronting this situation are:
Diversification, by incorporating into their production
system higher value crops or livestock that have an identified
b) Adding value to the products that they currently
grow, by changes in farming practices that enhance product
quality and the incorporation of post-harvest handling and
processing activities that meet the needs of clients or
order to take advantage of these potential options, however,
the resultant activities must be competitive, sustainable
and equitable in the distribution of benefits.
Competitiveness can be understood
in the context of:
a market orientation which produces the right product for
the right buyer at the right time and price;
b) the establishment of production systems that make
efficient use of existing financial, human and natural resources;
c) the incorporation of necessary post-harvest handling
and processing techniques;
d) appropriate business and marketing skills and
organizational schemes which lead to economies of scale,
e) improved links among market chain actors and flows
of information and technologies.
Relief Services (CRS) has recognized the need for incorporating
a market orientation in their support for farming communities
and is adopting with their partners a commodity or market
chain approach to the development of prioritized crops or
and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT),
through its Rural Agroenterprise Development Project , have
been generating information, and developing methods and
tools aimed at responding to the entrepreneurial development
needs of institutions that support rural communities. At
present, Foodnet and CIAT have at their disposition methods
and tools for capturing and systematizing market information,
identifying market opportunities for small rural producers,
and a participatory approach to the design of integrated
commodity chain projects. In the process of development
are guidelines for the strengthening of local support systems
for rural agroenterprises.
the links between agricultural research and development
institutions associated with the small farm sector have
been weak, with a poor record of adoption of innovations
in terms of either technologies or methods, coupled with
non-existent means by which the results of successes or
failures can be fed back to the research process.
this deficiency is now recognized and great efforts are
being made to redress this situation through proactive collaboration
between public and private service providers, in particular
the publicly funded research institutions and the NGO sector,
there is a need to make a radical change in the way in which
knowledge and mutual learning experiences are created and
shared between the two groups.
proposal is an attempt to put into practice a new model
of mutual learning between research and development institutions,
with a view to enhancing the rate of uptake of innovative
concepts, methods and technologies that are aimed at improving
the competitiveness of smallholder production. The model
is based on a) the identification of a specific development
need or demand, and b) the definition, and subsequent implementation,
of a set of activities over time that involve a process
of learning, putting into practice what has been learnt,
reflection and feedback on what has worked and what has
not worked, followed by a further cycle of learning, practice,
reflection and feedback, etc. This approach differs substantially
from the common practice of attempting to 'train' development
practitioners in new methods and tools in one-off training
courses of short duration.
To improve the capacity of CRS personnel and those of its
partner institutions to support the development of sustainable
links between their target farmers and markets. These links
will be achieved through the design of projects for selected
products, using a market or commodity chain perspective,
that seek to enhance the competitiveness of small-farm production,
and a more equitable distribution of benefits along the
Africa works in eight countries and has identified with
its partners the following commodities with market potential:
sesame, chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, cassava, sweet potato,
lulu (shea), and honey. These commodities will provide a
starting point for the present project, but may not constitute
the whole range of possible options to be considered in
any particular country, or region within a particular country.
An on-going project on sesame involving several E African
countries will be used as a case study.
b) Partners and their contribution
§ Catholic Research Services/East Africa: Leadership
§ CRS Country Program and Partner Staff in participating
countries: Local knowledge and project implementation
§ Foodnet: Market information and analysis skills
§ CIAT: Methods for the participatory design of market
opportunity identification and evaluation, and integrated
Sequence of events
Note: This is a tentative plan based on an 'ideal' sequence',
and will be discussed and adjusted during the 'kick-off'
workshop based on the resources available and other time
commitments of the actors.
Kick-off Workshop to a) review and synthesize the demands
and needs of the participants as an input to the subsequent
planning of future activities, b) undertake sensitivity
and awareness building on the use of participatory approaches
and their application to locally-based agroenterprise development
c) collectively build a consensus on the principles of a
market and enterprise approach, d) develop the methods and
tools required for market opportunity identification and
evaluation involving farmers, e) plan and budget future
activities. Duration and place: 5 days in Nairobi. See Annex
2 for further details of this activity.
2. Forming an interest group and identifying market opportunities
Implementation of interest group formation in each selected
region of the participating countries, collection and synthesis
of base-line and development of an action plan. Initiation
of the market opportunity identification and evaluation
process. Duration: four months. Place: in country, with
backstopping of CIAT and Foodnet.
a) share experiences on the action undertaken in each
country, problems encountered and solutions found,
b) review criteria for selection of enterprise options,
and development of the methods and tools for evaluating
them. Duration 3 days in Nairobi (or other appropriate location
in one of the participating countries).
3. Evaluating market opportunities and selecting most attractive
Implementation of market option characterization and selection
process. Duration: 4 months. Place: in country, with back
stopping from CIAT and Foodnet.
a) share experiences on the actions undertaken in each
country, problems encountered and solutions found and
b) review process for designing integrated agroenterprise
projects, and select appropriate tools for preparing action
plans for each product chosen for enterprise development.
Duration: 5 days at one of the project sites.
4. Agroenterprise design and development of action plans
Implementation of integrated agroenterprise design for selected
products in each participating country. Place: In country,
with back stopping from CIAT and Foodnet. Duration: 6 months.
a) share experiences on the actions undertaken in
each country, problems encountered and solutions found and
b) review and synthesize demands for services to
support market chain development of the selected enterprises
in each country,
c) develop a regional and country specific plans
to address opportunities for service provision and fill
gaps that have been detected. Duration: 5 days in one of
the project sites.
5. Monitoring and evaluation of the process, and synthesis
of results into guides for future use
Develop an appropriate monitoring and evaluation scheme.
A small task force will be formed during the 'kick-off'
workshop to propose a monitoring and evaluation process
to capture information that will provide the basis on which
to synthesize the results of the learning alliance and produce
guides for the use of practitioners. The task force will
report at the second workshop. Duration: four months from
end of 'kick-off' workshop.
Preparation of evaluation report and guidelines for
agroenterprise identification and development. Based on
the experiences, lessons learned and methodologies developed
a guide, or series of guides will be prepared on the process
of identifying and developing agroenterprises with rural
chronogram, Figure 1, summarizes this process.
contribution of their respective institutions.
Travel and per diems for workshops:
CRS/CPs and EARO for CRS personnel, Foodnet for Foodnet
and CIAT personnel.
Logistics for workshops: CRS/EARO
Field work in participating countries:
Travel for backstopping activities
by Foodnet and CIAT personnel to countries: CRS/EARO
this process prove successful, it should result in a group
of CRS and CRS partners with the capacity to replicate the
process with others.