Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

This July Agrilinks Talks Markets

Market systems are like a living puzzle of ever-changing, interlocking forces.

Finding the missing pieces needed to complete the picture of prosperity and food security is one of the most important challenges development practitioners face.

We know raising incomes through market systems initiatives is not always sufficient to improve nutrition or ensure food security. Poor households are vulnerable to market shocks not just as consumers but also as producers. Commodity prices may suddenly dive or a weather event could wipe out a crop. Layer in the complexities of regulations, infrastructure and host of other factors that can lead a program success or failure, and it’s no wonder the development community still struggles to facilitate inclusive, sustainable market growth.

Yet big gains have been made in our understanding of how markets work and how we can help make them work better for food-insecure families and poor farmers struggling to lift themselves out of poverty. This past June, USAID leadership and select partners gathered in Dakar, Senegal to share insights and knowledge on these issues at a Global Learning and Evidence Exchange (GLEE). See a video clip of opening remarks from Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, below.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll share insights from that gathering on issues ranging from trade and finance to risk and resilience. We invite technical experts and field practitioners to share their own lessons from designing and executing market systems programming in partnership with the private sector and host governments to catalyze transformative, inclusive market growth. In the meantime, we’d like to share some resources from the archives of Agrilinks and its sister site Microlinks.

  • Earlier this year, Agrilinks and Microlinks held an event delving into research on the practices of women who buy and sell as part of informal cross-border trade.  It highlighted the constraints they face, as well as the unsung contributions they make to the economy and food security in their own communities. Click here for a Q&A with the presenters.
  • The market for smallholder inputs offers huge income and productivity opportunities for smallholder famers. There are a number of promising models, including the village agrodealer model discussed in this post from World Vision.
  • The need to better integrate smallholder farmers into global markets is an important topic on Agrilinks. Learn more about Farmforce, one of many emerging products to offer farm-level traceability solutions and information management.
  • Meanwhile, Microlinks hosts a wealth of technical briefs, case studies and other resources on agricultural market systems and is home to the indispensable Value Chain Wiki. Notable among these are materials developed under the Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) project to support programming that fosters inclusive growth through markets.
  • This Framework for Inclusive Market System Development is a great starting point for those looking to better understand market systems and how they complement value chain approaches.
  • Improving Smallholder Farmers’ Beneficial Access to Output Markets is another great resource from the LEO activity, which takes a deep dive to 10 market case studies to reveal five overarching strategies to improve output market access. This report looks at smallholders’ access to input markets.
  • Blog posts on Microlinks like this also address agricultural market system analysis and provide helpful hints on how to identify constraints and opportunities, unearth the root causes of a market failure that, if addressed, can unlock prosperity for the poor.
  • This interesting piece takes a look at revisiting a project to see whether market interventions in the swine sector actually took root after project conclusion, offering some applicable lessons for all.

Do you have a great resource or lesson to share on market systems for development? Comment below, post to your account or write to the Agrilinks team(link sends e-mail). We look forward to the dialogue this month on this important topic!