Innovations for organized and profitable produce markets: The Lake Kivu Pilot Learning Site

Alice Mukamana (R) and Claudine Uwase adding value to potatoes by washing, grading and packing them at Josephine Mukankusi’s house in Rwanda. Photo by Pascal Habumugisha.

Alice Mukamana (R) and Claudine Uwase adding value to potatoes by washing, grading and packing them at Josephine Mukankusi’s washing station in Rwanda. Photo by Pascal Habumugisha.

By Rebecca Selvarajah

Two new articles in the African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics highlight the role of the ‘Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D)’ approach in Africa. The approach integrates markets and innovation platforms (IPs).

FARA, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, commissioned a pilot study to understand the role of markets and marketing systems in African agriculture. The study also sought to test the effectiveness of  the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D)  approach and its ‘innovation platforms’ as a strategy for poverty alleviation.

A new paper by Chiuri et al. delves into current socio-economic characteristics of produce traders, and provides an assessment of value chains in terms of access to market information and other market services, and existing constraints and opportunities for improved market access for diversified agro-enterprises.

Using a market baseline survey in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme (SSACP) found that disorganised markets and marketing were major factors in perpetuating poverty cycles among subsistence farmers.

These markets are characterised, among others, by too many players within a value chain, a lack of collective marketing and collective purchasing, poor transport infrastructure, a lack of value addition, poor access to market information or a total lack of market information, and unfavourable trade policies or a lack of any. Although smallholder farmers are the highest investors in terms of land, tools, time, labour, inputs and transport along the value chains, they benefit least when it comes to earnings. It is simply not economical to produce surpluses in the absence of assured markets, good market policies and reliable marketing strategies.

The IAR4D approach set out, from 2008 to 2010, to address these challenges. Farmers, traders, government officials, nongovernmental organisations, researchers, transporters and microfinance institutions came together to tackle the poverty and wealth creation challenges facing communities in the study sites. Surveys carried out in 2010 show that the IAR4D approach has had considerable success in addressing both farmer and trader concerns.

Trader associations have been set up, and linked with farmer associations and bulk buying/selling practises; value addition in sorghum and banana, now processed into porridge, banana beer and banana wine, have prolonged shelf life. Marketing skills have been imparted to both farmers and traders, and they have been able to access credit from financial institutions. Farmers and traders have entered into formal contracts for the first time.

Other successes include women empowerment at all the research sites, which has been achieved through affirmative action in the formation of the innovation platforms, farmer associations and sub-committees that require at least 30% representation of women in the management and decision-making processes.

The results show that gender is an important component in the value chains, depending on historical realities. In the DRC, for example, a country that has been in crisis for long, women have ventured into long- and short-distance trade. In Uganda, a country that has been at peace for at least 20 years, men trade more and further away from home. In Rwanda, where there has been 15 years of peace, men and women seemed to share the trading space in the country equally.

Read full article here: Market access for agro-enterprise diversity in the Lake Kivu Pilot Learning Site of the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme. By Chiuri W, Birachi E, Buruchara R, Adekunle W, Fatunbi O, Pali P N, Wimba B, Bizosa A, Nyamurinda B, Nyamwaro S O, Habumugisha P, Tuyisenge J, Bonabana-Wabbi J, Karume K, Kasenge V, Kamugisha R, Fungo B, Tumwesigye S, Kato E, Nkonya E. 2013. African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 8 (3): 120-134 [PDF]

In a related paper, Kalibwani et al. discuss the role of IAR4D in by-law enactment, implementation and compliance in southwestern Uganda, and the potential benefits of the IAR4D approach for the development of local-level institutions.

Download article: Local institutions in southwestern Uganda: the role of integrated agricultural research for development [PDF]

Read a related blog on market interventions and value-addition in the Lake Kivu Pilot Study Site, based on a journal article by Birachi et al, also published in the same journal: Market interventions double farmers’ returns in the Lake Kivu Pilot Site'

Daisy Ouya

Daisy Ouya is a science writer and communications specialist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Over the past 15 years she has been packaging and disseminating scientific knowledge in the fields of entomology, agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS research, and marine science. Daisy is a Board-certified Editor in the Life Sciences ( and has a Masters’ degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut, USA. Her BSc is from the University of Nairobi in her native Kenya. She has worked as a journal editor, science writer, publisher, and communications strategist with various organizations. She joined ICRAF in July 2012. Twitter: @daisyouya

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