Developing Private Sector Agro-Input Markets – Lessons Learned and Emerging Perspectives on Subsidy Programs


Join us in Jinja, Uganda | February 19–23, 2018

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About the Training


In the last decade a number of developing countries have implemented subsidy programs to support vulnerable farmers and reach remote regions that are not served by the private sector. There was increased focus on these programs following the 2007/08 world food crisis when governments were hard-pressed to cushion farmers and consumers from high input and output prices. The relatively high domestic distribution costs and risks within the supply chains in these countries led to poor access to and low use of agro-inputs (fertilizers, seeds, and crop protection products), which depressed agricultural productivity.

These programs have continuously been undergoing changes in their design and implementation across countries as a result of assessments or feedback that have shown the need for improvements to meet objectives. Targeted subsidies have been used to encourage pro-poor growth for select rural farmers, while blanket or uniform subsidies have been open, focusing on the larger agricultural economy, and favoring larger producers who already have better access to improved inputs. These subsidy programs have generally been costly and ineffective, with benefits often accruing to larger farmers or subject to political capture and rent-seeking, while in other circumstances these inputs have “leaked” across borders to unintended beneficiaries.

In recent years international development partners have reduced their support in funding subsidy programs in developing countries. This, coupled with the fact that these programs are stretching national budgets, are administered inefficiently and have not performed well, has nudged governments in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and other parts of the world to re-examine and make a decision on a way forward and what role, if any, the state should play in input markets. These developments have also been accompanied by recent studies and assessments looking at the performance of several subsidy programs in Africa and Asia, which provide a rich set of data and information to help stakeholders make decisions based on evidence.

IFDC has over 35 years’ experience conducting research and providing training and technical assistance in all aspects of agro-input markets in the developing world. At the request of some governments, IFDC has provided technical support in the introduction of subsidy programs and also has provided capacity building though seminars and workshops to share lessons learned and best practices, working in collaboration with local and international partners.

This training program will draw on lessons learned and the latest research findings and recommendations from IFDC and partner organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

Training Program Target Audience and Objectives


The five-day program is designed for key stakeholders involved in designing or implementing targeted agro-input subsidy interventions. These include government officials dealing with formulating and implementing agricultural input trade policies; input suppliers contributing to the distribution and accessibility of agro-inputs; development partners involved in agro-inputs project design and/or implementation; farmers’ organizations or farmers’ representatives involved in ensuring farmer participation; and representatives of donor organizations funding agricultural development and private sector projects.


As a result of the five-day training program, participants will be able to:

  • Understand why various types of subsidies were introduced, i.e., objectives and history.
  • Improve technical knowledge of the design and operation of subsidy programs.
  • Discuss the effectiveness and effects of market interventions by governments.
  • Analyze the the performance of different types of subsidy programs.
  • Review and discuss the best practices and lessons learned from different programs in order to identify possible improvements.
  • Discuss the need for exit strategies and involvement of the private sector in procurement and distribution of agro-inputs.
  • Analyze available information on the performance of subsidy programs and make informed decisions on whether to (dis)continue, replace with alternative investments, or improve/strengthen these programs.


The program faculty will include IFDC specialists as well as guest speakers from partner organizations.

Training Program Content and Methodology


The program will cover various topics including, but not limited to:

  • The rationale for targeted subsidies versus traditional input subsidies.
  • Comparison of targeted versus traditional subsidies.
  • The concept of a “smart” subsidy program and what this entails.
  • Going beyond “smart”; what structural issues should be considered in different countries? Is there a way to tailor subsidy design to existing infrastructure or other factors in these countries?
  • Recent developments in subsidy design and implementation based on research and assessments conducted in the last few years.
  • Role of key stakeholders (government, donors and implementing partners, suppliers, agro-dealers, farmers, etc.) and services like banking and finance.
  • Policy insights on developing input markets within and across countries under subsidy programs.
  • Exit strategy and the role of government and the private sector.
  • Way forward: providing insights based on existing knowledge and analysis.



The program will introduce study cases from different countries, providing participants the opportunity to understand the “why and how” these programs were initiated. It will include presentations and discussions on input subsidies – concepts and practices – from different contexts and various perspectives with a focus on fertilizer and seed subsidies. A field trip will be arranged to expose participants to the local agro-input market conditions. Participants will give the opportunity to share subsidy experiences from their countries. The training will also provide an opportunity for networking among participants. The training workshop will invite expert speakers from various public and private institutions to share their knowledge, experiences, and research on input markets and subsidies in particular.

Travel and Fees














The workshop will take place at the Jinja Nile Resort located 4 kilometers from Jinja Town. Set on more than 30 acres along the bank of the Nile River, Jinja Nile Resort provides a panoramic view of the longest river in the world. It can be easily reached in 2 hours from Entebbe International Airport.

Jinja Nile Resort has agreed to offer participants of this training program an exceptional rate of 270,000 UGX (approximately U.S. $74) per room/per night. This rate is for standard single rooms and inclusive of breakfast. The rooms are in colonial-type cottages, allowing for plenty of privacy and are equipped with a wireless internet connection. All rooms are en suite and have a small sitting room, work desk, and a private Nile-facing balcony.

Please contact the hotel no later than January 19, 2018 to reserve your room. After this date, reservations will be subject to hotel room availability and at the best available rate. Participants should plan to arrive on Sunday, February 18, 2018.

Jinja Nile Resort

Plot No. M130 Kimaka Road

P.O. Box 1553, Jinja, Uganda

Phone: +256 774 676 832



Enrollment and Fees


The program fee for this training course is US $1,650 per participant (inclusive of a US $250 non-refundable deposit) and should reach IFDC no later than January 19, 2018, four (4) weeks before the program is scheduled. Those received thereafter will be accepted at IFDC’s discretion and incur a late fee. Participants will be given the opportunity to take advantage of an early bird rate if registration and payment is received by IFDC prior to December 19, 2017 . Please refer to the table below for pricing:

The program fee, less the non-refundable deposit, will be refunded for cancellations made two (2) weeks before the commencement of the program. Ninety percent of the paid fee will be returned and 10 percent, in addition to the deposit, will be charged to cover administrative costs for cancellations made between two (2) weeks and one (1) week before the commencement of the program. Cancellations made less than one (1) week before the commencement of the program will receive no refund.

Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Paid participants will receive priority. An organization wishing to enroll more than one participant should supply information and payment for each participant.

Payment of the program fee can be made by: (1) check or draft payable to IFDC; (2) wire transfer to IFDC’s account in the U.S.A. through First Metro Bank, 406 West Avalon Avenue, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, U.S.A., ABA number 062203955 for credit to IFDC account number 55281; or (3) major credit card – MasterCard, Visa or American Express.

The program fee covers registration, training and reference material, coffee/tea breaks, all lunches and surface transportation on field trips. The fee does not include air travel, lodging and dinner expenses or medical and communication expenses.



Payment of the program fee can be made by:

  • (1) check or draft payable to IFDC;
  • (2) wire transfer to IFDC’s account in the U.S.A. through First Metro Bank, 406 West Avalon Avenue, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, U.S.A., ABA number 062203955 for credit to IFDC account number 55281; or
  • (3) major credit card – MasterCard, Visa or American Express.

The program fee covers registration, training and reference material, coffee/tea breaks, all lunches and surface transportation on field trips. The fee does not include air travel, lodging and dinner expenses or medical and communication expenses.


APPLICATIONS FOR VISAS SHOULD BE MADE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Participants who are not eligible to enter Uganda without a visa should apply at for an e-Visa or the nearest consulate or embassy of Uganda for a traditional visa. All required immunizations and health formalities should be completed. Medical insurance should be obtained by participants. The training program fee does not cover any medical insurance or expenses.



IFDC is a nonprofit, public international organization (PIO) dedicated to increasing agricultural productivity and food production through the development and use of plant nutrients in sustainable crop production systems. Headquartered in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, U.S.A., IFDC is involved in human resource development, research and technical assistance in collaboration with public, private, national and international organizations throughout the world. IFDC has conducted more than 700 formal workshops, study tours and training programs for over 11,000 participants from over 150 countries since 1974. The programs have covered a wide range of subjects including integrated soil fertility management and fertilizer use efficiency, fertilizer production technology, agro-input dealership management, competitive marketing, supply chain management, investment analysis, policy reforms and numerous specialized topics.

For all Training Program inquiries, contact:

James Thigpen
Training Coordinator

IFDC – P.O. Box 2040 Muscle Shoals, Alabama 35662, U.S.A.

As a nonprofit organization, IFDC does not finance or sponsor any participant.