Understanding agribusiness-based advisory services: Findings of a learning trajectory
This report (PDF) by KIT, Agriterra, Moyee Coffee and the Food & Business Knowledge Platform focuses on the functioning of agribusiness-based agricultural advisory services to small-scale farmers. Advisory services offered by agribusiness are potentially important mechanisms for small and particularly medium farmers to improve the way they farm, increase the volume and quality of production and enhance their livelihoods. There is great diversity in how agribusinesses operate and organise their advisory services. Furthermore, they pay relatively little attention to mobilizing systematic feedback from farmers on their advisory services. All agribusiness underlined the importance and benefits of the advisory services, without being able to compare these with the costs incurred. An important limitation of the advisory services relates to their reach; they cover only specific geographical areas and work only with already market-oriented farmers (men and women). Another limitation is their focus; the attention is often on only one of a few commodities, ignoring (impacts on) other parts of the farming system. Overall, agribusinesses can improve their agricultural advisory services by making service provision – the delivery mechanisms, their quality, adoption, costs and impact – an explicit agenda item. This means moving beyond the assumption that their advisory services work, to develop a basic but solid theory of change and related business plan for the advisory services, and monitoring these to improve them further. Furthermore, there is a need for independent studies on the development outcome of agribusiness-based advisory services in terms of their link with the overall commercial operations of agribusinesses.
An executive summary can be found here.