Towards demand-driven services? The role of feedback mechanisms in agribusiness-based advisory services for smallholder farmers
This paper (PDF) in Enterprise Development and Microfinance explores the extent to which agribusinesses provide demand-driven services based on farmer feedback and how they integrate and learn from such feedback, based on a study of 29 agribusinesses providing advisory services to farmers in developing countries. agribusinesses are highly engaged in providing services to smallholder farmers, including agricultural advisory services or extension. As private service providers depend on farmers’ choice, farmer feedback and farmers’ demands. However, little is known on whether and how agribusinesses operationalize the idea of demand-driven service provision. The study shows that agribusinesses provide focused advisory services to diverse farmers in developing countries, which are often farmers’ main source of technical advice. While generally attaching considerable importance to farmer-specific information to improve business strategies and target services and products, this study suggests that agribusinesses pay relatively little attention to mobilizing systematic feedback from farmers on their advisory services. To understand the effectiveness and performance of such services, most agribusinesses rely on data collected for general business purposes, such as on volume and quality of produce sold to sourcing companies, or type, quality, and volume of products bought from input suppliers. There are, however, important limitations in using such data to assess their advisory services. This paper has shown that there is considerable potential to improve feedback systems, especially by using direct feedback mechanisms on why farmers adopt or do not adopt advice and relevant technology, which knowledge gaps farmers still exhibit, which products work well and why, and which services farmers need. In other words, agribusinesses can make their services more targeted, with the potential to increase effectiveness and relevance of service provision.
This article is related to the Agribusiness-based advisory services (ABAS) project. You can find more information about the project here.