Synthesis Documents

Scaling Impact: Improving smallholder farmers’ beneficial access to output markets, USAID, 2015

    Smallholder farmers constitute a majority of the working population in much of the developing world, and they tend to be stuck in patterns of semi-subsistence farming, unable to generate sufficient income to access key services to further their pathways out of poverty. Beneficial access to output markets—defined as farmers selling increased volumes of produce at an increased margin per unit with reduced volatility—is inextricably linked to smallholder farmer income.

    This report aims to inform the efforts of donors and implementers of market systems development activities to improve smallholder farmers’ access to output markets. It does so by reviewing 10 projects that have improved access, identifying the common barriers in those market systems, and describing the strategic approaches employed to address the barriers.

    The primary selection criteria for the case studies was based on four dimensions of scale and performance: (i) outreach—the number of farmers connected to markets; (ii) outcomes—the results achieved by smallholder farmers; (iii) sustainability—the market system’s ongoing orientation to smallholder farmers as a serious market; and (iv) equity—the extent to which disadvantaged or marginalized groups access output markets. The 10 cases that came closest to achieving these aspects of scale were then analyzed to answer the following research questions:

    - What strategies did these projects deploy to increase smallholder access to output markets?
    - What approaches were included in these strategies?
    - What are the key lessons learned and guidance for future implementers interested in implement-ing similar strategies and approaches?