30 June 2014.
IFDC developed an innovative and scalable solution to agricultural market selfsufficiency.
The evolution of this approach to farm-to market linkages began in 2006 with IFDC’s 1000s+ project in West Africa. This project introduced the Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE)
methodology, a revolution in agricultural development.
Under CASE, farmers are grouped into clusters and trained in the production of a common crop. The groups then connect with fertilizer and seed suppliers. They link to their value chain – networks that include banks, agro-dealers, storage facilities, processors and other agribusiness partners. Most importantly, the farmer groups connect with private sector buyers in regional and global food markets.
In a recent interview, Arno Maatman, coordinator of IFDC’s pan-Africa 2SCALE project, reflected on the evolution of the approach.
“When we started 1000s+ using CASE, the whole concept of agribusiness clusters to support sustainable farmer-market linkages was new. Today, the concept is spreading in Africa. 2SCALE is a descendant of that project, only we’re scaling up our efforts substantially.”
The 2SCALE project is the largest agribusiness incubator in Africa. It spans 12 countries and affects more than 1 million farmers. According to Maatman, the farmer cluster concept is key. It focuses on the networks that need to evolve around farmer production. In the past, farmers were at the mercy of unanticipated market conditions and not always fairminded produce buyers. 2SCALE strengthens the ability of farmers and local entrepreneurs to identify the most profitable channel options.
In 2SCALE’s first 18 months, more than 190 agribusiness clusters began operating in 10 countries. Farmer groups now link to more than 1,000 private sector firms. Clusters include food crops, cash crops and dairy and poultry production, among others. Large private food companies and bank partnerships have emerged. Additional cooperatives are being negotiated.
Yet, the question of equitable access to these opportunities by the poorest of Africa remains. With this new form of agricultural development, we have more power than ever to create income equity. Providing farmers the right tools and training, linking them to one another, to market services and to buyers, provides them with unprecedented social and economic opportunities.