Scaling Impact: Extending Input Delivery to Smallholder Farmers at Scale

  • Date Posted: February 13, 2015
  • Authors: Ben Fowler, Dan White
  • Organizations/Projects: MarketShare Associates; ACDI/VOCA
  • Document Types: Assessment, Evidence or Research, Evidence or Research
  • Donor Type: Non-US Government Agency

Smallholder farmers represent the majority of the world’s farmers as well as the majority of the world’s poor. Though it has been established that the application of improved inputs (such as fertilizer, agrochemicals, and seeds) can increase both yields and income, improved input access remains low.

This paper strives to inform the development of market systems that improve smallholder access to and adoption of commercial inputs. Previous studies have focused primarily on cases where donor funding has facilitated market change. This report, on the other hand, considers a diversity of models but focuses particularly on those that have reached significant scale.

To provide a common basis for analysis, four dimensions of scale and performance are examined:

  1. Outreach—the number of farmers commercially acquiring inputs;
  2. Outcomes—the results (i.e., increased yields or income) achieved by smallholder farmers due to acquiring and using inputs;
  3. Sustainability—the market system’s continued capacity to provide appropriate inputs on a commercial basis to smallholder farmers; and
  4. Equity—the extent to which disadvantaged or excluded groups (e.g., smallholder farmers, women, low-income households) acquire inputs.

The findings in this report are based on a review of 47 projects as well as a deeper analysis of nine cases.