Bringing together push and pull through local entrepreneurs
Despite significant efforts in agriculture market development, millions of smallholder farmers remain isolated from markets, due to remoteness and low farm productivity. Push/pull approaches to market development suggest a dual strategy for bringing smallholders into agricultural markets: 1) reduce producer vulnerability and build capacities, based on market requirements; and 2) facilitate relationships for producers to deal in consistent, growing markets. While simple in concept and effective as an approach, the execution of push/pull is complex. In particular, it is difficult to connect push (producer capacity) and pull (market) elements, resulting in unsustainable market linkages. When applying a push/pull approach in areas where the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) works, AKF has noted that local entrepreneurs can link push and pull effectively and for the long term. This case study reviews how entrepreneurs link push and pull in AKF's market development programme in southern Tanzania. It outlines learning on how local entrepreneurs bridge gaps between producers and firms, taking the case of remote farmers accessing inputs (seed, fertilizer, implements, and pesticide) from larger suppliers. The paper describes the challenge of linking push and pull, outlines AKF's experience in southern Tanzania, and follows with points for discussion on incorporating local entrepreneurs into push/pull programmes.