Enhancing the Supply-side of the Maize Market, Katalyst 2006

    Following its market development approach to business services, the focus of KATALYST's work has been on addressing a number of core constraints - weak information flows on the "know how" of growing, poor linkages to markets, an inability to take maize into farmers' 3-crop cycle and declining soil fertility. In each case its interventions have been marked by a number of common features:

    - Bringing in new ideas - identifying potential business service solutions to market constraints - contract farming, short duration T-Aman (STA) rice and more effective organic composts - that were present but had not been adopted on a large scale.
    - Working with key partners: identifying partners that can champion the new idea who are at the producer level in the market, in a leading position and with appropriate motivation and credibility.
    - Building ownership in the process: undertaking tasks with (and not for) partners and sharing costs to test their commitment.
    - Crowding in: encouraging other input providers to invest in knowledge and information and thereby promote wider change.

    A range of activities were undertaken over the 12-month intervention period, with the emphasis being on technical assistance rather than financial inputs (total intervention costs were $81,000).

    Summary of results
    Among the key direct impacts were major change and expansion in the business models of each partner (with more being invested in knowledge and information services) and more, but still mixed - adoption of new techniques by farmers.

    KATALYST's work has clearly contributed to major performance improvement in the maize sector in Rangpur. Even in a context of strong growth nationally, Rangpur's share of production has increased from 13.6% to 17%. In two years, Rangpur's output grew by 140%. Farmers switching to maize from other crops have typically doubled their incomes, with those involved in contract farming often gaining more than this.

    The poor have benefited - as consumers and labourers - from the general increase in activity arising from more maize growth. However, the biggest gains are for those involved in maize growing directly, often through informal sharecropping arrangements, and who constitute around 5-10% of maize farmers.

    The case highlights the potential benefits from adopting a market development approach and useful lessons in relation to the "how to" of intervention, especially achieving successful collaborations between organisations. It also sets out key challenges in the process - how to ensure that the poor are at the centre of intervention strategies, how to build the learning capacity of market systems and how to crowd in other players.

    Associated Activities and Documents
    »Bringing Knowledge to Vegetable Farmers, KATALYST Bangladesh 05
    »KATALYST - Implementation, Bangladesh 2002-2007