supplies and market their produce profitably. This article describes research carried out jointly by the Natural Resources Institute and the Plunkett Foundation, involving visits to five countries in sub-Saharan Africa during 1994–6, directed at identifying the characteristics of sustainable
farmer-controlled enterprises in surplus-producing areas. It also aimed to define programming features which would contribute to a sound support policy for this sector – an area in which international donors and NGOs now take a leading role. This article highlights the research team's
findings, and their implications for donors seeking to promote farmer groups.