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Practical Action Consulting
Agriculture and Markets

Sustainable farming and food systems

Agriculture in developing countries faces a number of challenges – especially for smallholder farmers. Despite accounting for the majority of production, these farmers face poverty and food insecurity. Bypassed by modern agriculture and commercial markets, and extremely vulnerable to climate change and environmental damage, young people are leaving the sector, which in turn threatens consumer food supplies. Improving agriculture is twice as effective at reducing poverty as any other sector, so since the 1960s we have been working to improve productivity, build climate resilience, enhance income opportunities and make agriculture work for smallholders.

We bring together researchers, the private sector, government bodies, rural enterprises and smallholder farmers to create resilient farming and food systems that help create vibrant rural economies.

Our work focuses on:

Sustainable agriculture

We develop approaches that enable farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture protecting natural capital and supporting adaptation to climate change and a reduction in GHG emissions.

Providing market expertise in renewable energy

We support the analysis and development of ‘productive use programming’. This includes the use of renewable energy to support irrigation, agro-processing and other functions that support improved productivity, value addition and sustainability in agriculture.

Building inclusive supply chains

We work with companies to enable them to better understand and engage with small scale farmers including developing an understanding of Living Income issues. We support small scale farmers, including women and youth, to develop the capacity, the confidence and the voice to engage with companies in ways that ensure supply chains are inclusive and resilient. This includes the development of effective producer groups that support improved productivity, quality and aggregation.

Facilitating stakeholder engagement and cross-sector collaboration

We enable multi-stakeholder platforms, made up of business, civil society, research institutions and government, to address challenges holding back inclusiveness and growth of specific agricultural sectors.

Undertaking market assessments and analysis

We carry out sectoral analysis to identify constraints and use this to focus on interventions where change is needed and establish partnerships with market actors.

If you’re interested in finding out more or want to get in touch to discuss partnership opportunities, please contact us at:

[email protected]

Examples of our work

Market Systems Development – TREYL

A key part of our work at PAC is market systems development – working with market actors (companies, producers, Governments) to improve how markets work so that they grow in a way that supports greater inclusivity and greater resilience.

A key example of our work in this area is the Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL) project. TREYL is an innovative project that brings together our core competencies in market systems development and regenerative agriculture. TREYL aims to demonstrate that rural economies can develop in an alternative way by developing inclusive markets and business that support regenerative agriculture and circular economies whilst also providing youth with business opportunities and links to wider markets.

PAC provide targeted technical support that includes: staff training and mentoring on market systems development; leadership in design and initial implementation of markets analysis; support to the development of strategies that strengthen the capacity of marginalised groups to participate; leadership in the design and facilitation of multi-stakeholder forums & engagement strategies for business.

PMSD Toolkit – Coming soon!

Over the past fifteen years, we have developed expertise in the use of market systems approaches. PAC play a facilitative role, helping market systems actors themselves drive the development of new business models and practises that unblock constraints and open up opportunities for greater levels of inclusion and improved market effectiveness.

This is aided by Practical Action’s Participatory Market Systems Development (PMSD) toolkit. The toolkit is a one-stop shop for anyone wanting to apply PMSD or learn more about it. It is designed to help market actors collaborate in sector wide forums that improve the resilience of the market system by strengthening capacity for collaboration, innovation and adaptation. We’re currently updating the toolkit to reflect our learning and changes to the internal and external environments, so be sure to check back later for the re-launch!