Linking Farmers to Markets in Africa

Linking Farmers to Markets in Africa

Join Us in Accra, Ghana | May 15-19, 2017


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About the Training


A group of African farmers are producing a commodity, but every season they struggle to access the needed inputs – improved seeds, quality fertilizers and crop protection products – at the right time, in the right quantity and quality, in reasonable proximity to their farms and for a reasonable price. They often do not have the needed cash or credit to pay for the inputs. After harvest, the farmers struggle to sell their goods. Often, they have no choice but to sell their produce at the local market for a low price. They are not organized and do not have the capacity either to negotiate for better prices, or to store their produce until prices increase. Even the basic options needed to add value are beyond their reach.

When there is a steep rise in the price of agricultural commodities, it is expected that the increase in food commodity prices offers farmers in developing countries an incentive to increase their yields and incomes. But profitable smallholder farming requires timely access to affordable and quality inputs and the possibility to sell the products at harvest for remunerative prices. A certain level of organization among smallholder farmers can be quite beneficial to helping them access markets; improved knowledge of how to access markets and how to engage in transactions in competitive markets is also required. Improved access to timely information on prices is needed so that farmers can respond to market incentives and thereby help improve food security at the family and national levels. Enabling, favorable policies that allow for the development of farmer-to-market linkages are required.

The example above is an underlying problem statement of many project proposals with the objective to link farmers to markets through the increasingly popular commodity value chain approach, in which the consumer market drives the value chain. Based on IFDC’s experiences in Africa during the last 35 years, market demand is a major driver but will only lead to increased productivity, food security and welfare if combined with other market components that drive the value chain. Through many projects in Africa and other parts of the world, IFDC and partner organizations have developed a successful approach to organize and empower farmers and to effectively link them to both input and output markets.

IFDC’s Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE) approach develops ‘agribusiness clusters’ in which producer groups become an integral part of commodity value chains. Through support from Business Development Services, linkages among various value chain actors (input providers, producers, storage providers, processors, credit institutions, buyers) are established to effectively link farmers to markets. Profitability and sustainability are key elements of IFDC’s approach; the underlying concept that “all actors in a business cluster are able to generate additional revenue” is the basis for sustainability, both in economic and environmental terms. The IFDC approach is farmer-centered and assists farmers in identifying and accessing profitable input and output markets with an important role for farmer groups/organizations and with an additional focus on information management.

This training program will draw on lessons and best practices of IFDC and partner organizations in Africa.


The training program is aimed at professionals from both the private and public sector with a specific interest in farmer-to-market linkages:

  • Producer organizations and trade associations.
  • Government officials dealing with formulating and implementing agricultural and trade policies.
  • Service providers such as financial institutions, insurance companies, transporters, mobile phone services, ICT platform solutions, market information services, business development services, etc.
  • Agribusinesses dealing with farmers: processors, exporters and importers, agro-dealers, etc.
  • Representatives of national and international organizations involved in funding agricultural development and enterprise projects.

IFDC encourages the participation of project teams.


The objectives of this five-day program are to:

  • Discuss the theory behind the different principles and components of farmer-to-market linkages and draw on lessons and best practices of IFDC and partner organizations in Africa;
  • Show how to make theory successful in practice through well-selected case studies;
  • Improve capacities to analyze farmer-to-market linkages within the context of specific agricultural environments and their input and output markets;
  • Develop project(s) proposals which incorporate principles that allow for effective farmer-to-market linkages; and
  • Create a network to facilitate future exchanges, joint proposal development, mainstreaming of farmer linkages approaches and long-lasting, professional relationships.


Topics & More


The program is composed of three themes:

Input markets:

Importing agro-inputs is often limited to only a few players in a national market, while distributing inputs is open to everyone, including those without any technical knowledge. How can farmers identify a reliable distributor and enter into a mutually beneficial relationship? How can they negotiate good prices? How can they ensure timely delivery? How do they know which products to use and how to use them?

  • Agro-input markets: what they are, challenges serving farmers, structure, forecasting demand and selling.
  • Marketing – as the key to business development.
  • Agro-dealers and their linkages with farmers and financiers, facilitating the development of agro-dealer networks, competitive marketing strategies.
  • Lessons learned from agro-dealer strengthening programs.
  • Role of governments in linking farmers to agro-input markets.

Output markets:

Markets exist at several levels, from village to national and international markets. Often, a producer only has access to local markets, while other markets might offer better prices. But how can producers find these markets, access them and sell their products for prices that are negotiated based on supply and demand, while making optimal use of partnerships with other actors in a commodity value chain?

  • The Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE) approach: theory and principles.
  • Agribusiness cluster development and market opportunities.
  • Output market operations (challenges of access by smallholders, meeting market demands).
  • Structured marketing systems such as warehouse receipt systems, commodity exchanges and their essential logistics.
  • Role of agribusiness clusters in output markets.
  • Value chain development and analysis (activities of an actor in a value chain, logistics in value chains).
  • Outgrower model: opportunities and constraints.

Crosscutting Issues

To make agribusiness clusters work and ensure effective linkage, there are several other conditions that need to be fulfilled. The training program will focus on six of these cross-cutting issues: (a) association development and management; (b) market information systems (MIS); (c) access to financial services; (d) ICT platform solutions; (e) agricultural policies; and (f) gender integration.

  • Lessons from well-functioning agribusiness associations.
  • Agribusiness associations: roles, challenges and sustainability in value chain development.
  • Business development services.
  • Agricultural policies and influence on markets and farmers participation.
  • Harmonization of policies for regional integration of input and output markets.
  • Agri-insurance to protect producers’ investment and income.
  • Innovative agriculture financing mechanisms.
  • IT platforms and solutions: challenges and opportunities in linking agribusiness clusters to markets, linking farmers to financial solutions, using IT to access information.
  • Market information systems and market transparency (what are they, what works, practical examples).
  • Incorporating gender in market access: opportunities for women.
  • Proposal development.

For all topics, the program will discuss the current situation and how producers can use or influence the given situation to their advantage.


The five-day training is a combination of theory (classroom lectures), interactive interventions from resource persons to illustrate the farmer-to-market linkages in practice and presentations by participants or participating projects. Each day, participants will have the opportunity to put the theory into practice with a case study that includes all elements of the theory. The case study will form the basis for a presentation of a farmer-to-market project proposal developed by groups of participants. A field trip to expose participants to the workings of the farmer linkages to markets at the grassroots level and a panel discussion between experts and participants will be part of the methodology of the program.


The program faculty will include subject matter experts from IFDC and partner organizations.

Travel & Fees



The training program will take place in Accra, Ghana, at the Erata Hotel – a three-star facility situated in the serene environs of East Legon and residential area in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Conveniently located; a 10 minute drive from the Kotoka International Airport, 30-minute drive to Accra City Center, 20 minute drive to Aburi Botanical Gardens and 5 minute drive to the University of Ghana. Erata Hotel has over 50 well-furnished, air-conditioned rooms and offers a complimentary shuttle from the airport.

Participants will be extended IFDC’s negotiated special rate of US $80.00 per person/per night for bed and breakfast (inclusive of taxes). This rate is valid for reservations made NO LATER THAN April 15, 2017. After this date, reservations will be subject to room availability and at the best available rate. Participants will be responsible for reservation and payment of accommodations at the Erata Hotel. Participants should plan to arrive in Accra, Ghana, on Sunday, May 14, 2017.


Ouagadougou Avenue, Okponglo, East Legon

P.O. Box KIA 9968

Airport-Accra, GHANA

E-Mail :


Tel: +233 544 336761/572 717590/263 003927

Fax: +233 302 505 119


APPLICATIONS FOR NECESSARY VISAS SHOULD BE MADE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Participants who are not eligible to enter Ghana without a visa should apply at the nearest Ghana’s embassy for a 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.

Enrollment & 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 April 17, 2017, three (3) 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 March 27. 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.



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 more than 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 dealerships, competitive marketing, supply chain management, investment analysis, policy reforms and numerous specialized topics.


Training and Workshop Coordination Unit

P.O. Box 2040 Muscle Shoals, Alabama 35662, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 (256) 381-6600
Telefax: +1 (256) 381-7408
As a nonprofit organization, IFDC does not finance or sponsor any participant.