Pilot Testing the Territorial Marketing Methodology in Madagascar, Ferris & Dabat, CRS, 2003

    In collaboration with FOODNET and CIAT, CRS in 2002 launched a 'learning alliance' process designed to integrate a territorial approach to marketing and agroenterprise development into mainstream agricultural development programs in East Africa. Following training in the process, the CRS Madagascar team shifted from production-based agricultural interventions to a market-led agroenterprise approach intended to enhance farm community livelihoods by encouraging market-driven innovation. This highly participatory methodology helps farmers understand their market options and produce what they can sell, rather than trying to sell what they produce.

    In early 2003, CRS's Madagascan team decided to pilot test the territorial marketing methodology on a limited scale in the district of Antsirabe during the off season. The pilot provided CRS with an opportunity to train recently hired marketing officers, test working relationships with partners, and adapt the methodology to the Madagascan situation prior to including these concepts in the larger project, scheduled to begin in early 2004.

    To strengthen the market-led process, CRS developed an operational marketing and agricultural production management team (MT) comprising two highly qualified technical advisors. The team is responsible for strategic decision-making and project development as well as technical support to the marketing project officers (POs) implementing the new approach in four geographical areas included in the new project.

    The evaluation was udertaken in mid-2003 to draw lessons from the activities, strategies, and methodologies and to help CRS refine its interventions under the long-term project. Presented at a training in November 2003, it also was a way to share these experiences with the learning alliance group.

    Summary of results
    Some important findings of the evaluation recommended that:

    - The marketing & production management team be given increased autonomy to drive the 5-year project as the flagship program would require strong leadership during the transition to the new approach;

    - The role of POs should evolve as their initial focus on defining the territory and engaging farmers in a participatory manner to learn about and gain experience in agroenterprise development and market links shifts to a greater emphasis on business services that support such enterprises and, eventually, to a role in agribusiness/marketing service provision.

    - CRS create agroenterprise teams (AET) of stakeholders operating in the area and having a common interest in linking farmers to markets. This important task would requires careful selection of partners and innovative thinking in how to forge long-term partnerships.

    - Make training materials available in both French and Malagasy so they are more accessible to the CRS team and, particularly, to partners.

    Associated Activities and Documents
    »Value Adding, Agroenterprise, and Poverty Reduction: A territorial approach, CIAT, Colombia, Lundy, et al, 2002