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The business of agricultural business services: Working with smallholders in Africa

The business of agricultural business services

Edited by Mariana Wongtschowski, John Belt, Willem Heemskerk and David Kahan
Published by KIT Publishers/FAO
Website: www.kitpublishers.nl
2013, 192 pp, ISBN 978-9-46022-236-8 (Pb), €25 or free to download

With most African smallholder farmers now aiming to sell at least part of their output, enabling them to move to a more commercial footing demands much more than the production advice traditionally given by extension services. Marketing strategies, business planning, help with contracts and standards, and links to buyers and credit are increasingly vital, and supply of such services will underpin agricultural development in the coming years.

In describing and discussing the experiences of 12 business service providers from across Africa, this excellent new book aims to address some fundamental questions on sustainability, accountability and inclusiveness. What happens when donor money runs out? Who do business services listen to: the farmers, or the funders? And how can they ensure that women, the poor and the disadvantaged get the services they need but cannot afford? Having discussed both supply-driven and market-driven approaches to providing business services, the authors propose a new 'needs-driven' approach, which aims to overcome the shortcomings of the other two.

Clear, well structured writing, excellent use of cartoons and diagrams, and attractive photographs to head each chapter invite the reader to engage with what might see like a 'dry' topic. Inspiring and informative, it deserves to be widely read.

Date published: September 2013

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