Training Opportunity Nairobi

Linking Farmers to Markets

Nairobi, Kenya
July 1-5, 2013
Program Fee: US $1,300 (by June 1, 2013) or $1,500 (after June 1, 2013)


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 as in 2008, 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 30 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 Sub-Saharan Africa.

Training Program Objective

The objective of this five-day program is to expand the knowledge and understanding of development professionals from both the private and public sector with a specific interest in farmer-to-market linkages. The program will address the theory behind the different components of farmer-to-market linkages.

The program will incorporate many of the lessons learned by IFDC in more than 35 years of development experience in Africa. Subject matter discussions will be illustrated with interventions by resource persons from projects of IFDC and partner organizations that show how to make theory successful in practice. The program is oriented to both individual participants and project teams. It will improve the capacities of the participants to analyze farmer-to-market linkages within the context of a specific agricultural environment and its input and output markets and to develop projects or project approaches that help build effective farmer-to-market linkages. The training will allow participants to create a network that allows for future exchanges, joint proposal development, mainstreaming of approaches and long-lasting professional relationships.

Who Should Attend

The training program is aimed at development professionals from both the private and public sector with a specific interest in farmer-to-market linkages, such as agro-input dealers, importers, traders and trader organizations; producer organizations; and development projects, donors, NGOs and other agricultural development practitioners.IFDC encourages the participation of project teams.

Training Program Content

The program is composed of three themes:
1.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?
2.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?
3.Cross-cutting issues: To make agribusiness clusters work, there are several other conditions that need to be fulfilled. The training program will focus on three of these cross-cutting issues: (a) association development and management; (b) market information systems (MIS); and (c) agricultural policies. For all topics, the program will discuss the current situation and how producers can use or influence the given situation to their advantage.

Training Methodology

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.


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


The training will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, at the IFDC Regional Office, based on the ICIPE Compound – an excellent facility offering a fully equipped training center, a 34-room guesthouse and free WIFI Internet access. ICIPE has recently made significant upgrades to its guesthouse based on recommendations received from guests.

The IFDC Regional Office is less than a two-minute walk from the training center. Participants will be extended IFDC’s negotiated special rate of US $65.00 per person/per night for bed and breakfast (inclusive of taxes). This rate is valid for reservations made NO LATER THAN June 1, 2013. After this date, reservations will be subject to room availability and at the best available rate.

Participants should plan to arrive in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Although transportation (with the exception of field trips) falls under the participants’ responsibility, IFDC can arrange transportation to/from the airport for participants upon request for a cost of KES 1,800 (approximately US $20.00) one way and KES 3,600 (approximately US $40.00) round trip.

Coordinates are:

IFDC - East and Southern Africa Division
ICIPE Compound
Duduville-Kasarani, Thika Road
P.O. Box 30772-00100
Nairobi, KENYA
Direct Telephone: + 254 (20) 863 2720
Switchboard Telephone: +254 (20) 863 2000
Telefax: +254 (20) 863 2001

Visa and Medical Insurance

Participants who are not eligible to enter Kenya without a visa should apply at the nearest Kenyan 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.

Cost and Enrollment

The program fee for this training course is US $1,300 per participant, inclusive of a US $250 non-refundable deposit. This fee is due with enrollment but no later than June 1, 2013, four (4) weeks before the program is scheduled. Thereafter, a Late Fee will apply. The program fee, less the 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. Registration and program fee payments should reach IFDC by June 1, 2013. Those received thereafter will be accepted at IFDC’s discretion and incur an additional US $200 late fee. 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, visa and medical insurance, or communication expenses. All of these costs fall under participants’ responsibility.

About IFDC

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 about 10,000 participants from 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 more information:

Director, 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
Web Site:

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