Agriculture / Dairying / Fish / ILRI / Innovation Systems / PIL / PIM / Presentation / Spotlight / Tanzania / Thailand / Trade / Uganda

Small farmers and big retailing: What works? What doesn’t? in developing countries

Processed meat on sale in Maputo, Mozambique

Processed meat products (above) and produce (below) on sale in a large supermarket in Maputo, Mozambique (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

Maputo supermarket

What, or who, is a smallholder farmer? What is the ongoing retail revolution in developing countries all about? Are small-scale farmers involved?

Two agricultural economists, Derek Baker, formerly of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and now at the University of New England (UNE), in Australia, and Jo Cadilhon, of ILRI, help us think this through in a presentation they made at the GLOBALG.A.P. Summit in Abu Dhabi this week.

Here are some excerpts.


In making their case regarding the viability of smallholders joining in the retail revolution, Baker and Cadilhon cite four successful case studies of smallholders making a go of commercial opportunities in poor communities.

(1) Here’s a woman making a success of selling ‘fish sausages’ in Uganda and helping her smallholder fish farmer suppliers find markets.



(2) Here’s a successful exporter of fresh produce from Thailand still supplying from smallholder farmers.



(3) Here’s a group of small-scale dairy producers with government and industrial partners in northern Tanzania making a go — on their own — of an ‘innovation platform’.



(4) Here’s a group of smallholders in the Pacific re-inventing the production and marketing of vanilla beans.



What do these case studies tell us?



What are some bottom-line messages for GLOBALG.A.P.?


This work was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) by a team of scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the University of New England (UNE). Funding support for this study was provided by PIM and UNE. The authors thank case study personnel for their discussions and the material they provided. Jo Cadilhon dedicates this presentation to Mr Paichayon Uathaveekul, who died on 22 Sep 2014. Mr Uathaveekul was chair of Swift Co. Ltd. and an inspirational figure for all who strive to link smallholder farmers to dynamic markets.

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