Inclusive Markets and trade

AGRA works to boost regional trade opportunities for smallholder farmers in East and Southern Africa by creating structured trade channels and enhancing food processing platforms.

During 2022, the Market Shaping work stream prioritised:

Stakeholder consultations

Ugrading the East African rice value chain

Leveraging the food processing industry for inclusive markets

Championing the gender-focused VALUE4Her platform

Introducing finance support models in various African countries

Implementing environmental and social management in West Africa

Proof of Concept on Food Processing

The Bridge study in Zambia explored transforming low-margin crops into valuable products to benefit farmers. It examined the Zambian agro-processing sector, assessing challenges, opportunities, and economic trends. The study also pinpointed three investment areas to boost the industry's performance.

Financial and operational performance


  • Support expanding revenue with market landscaping, channel development, and R&D investments.
  • Enhance operations with tailored support like supply chain management.
  • Assist clients with investment readiness, developing materials for investors
  • Promote industry-level initiatives to attract funding and design appropriate bank products.

Employment generation


  • Assist in creating and executing gender inclusion strategies for sustainable business growth.
  • Advocate for internships and partnerships to integrate women in the agro-processing sector.

Inclusive sourcing and nutrition


  • Design and implement inclusive sourcing from smallholder farmers to show business benefits.
  • Enhance raw material sourcing for better capacity utilization.
  • Introduce nutritious food products tailored for local markets and base-of-the-pyramid consumers.

Theory of Change + Theory of Action for Inclusive Markets & Trade

AGRA assessed delivery models and market institutions to identify opportunities for building inclusive and resilient agricultural markets across Africa. By examining various value chains, systemic barriers like poor quality standards, post-harvest losses, and limited finance access were identified. Priorities include partnering with large companies, SMEs, and farmer organizations, and emphasizing policy harmonization, advisory services, and informal trade support.

The refined theory of change, therefore, outlined three pillars of focus:

Pillar 1

Support and facilitate the deployment and scale of inclusive business models efficiently linking farmers to output markets

Pillar 2

Promote access to finance and other services, enhancing the competitiveness of agri-food market actors

Pillar 3

Foster the development of a predictable, inclusive, and enabling policy and business environment for trade.

Economy-Based Market Linkages Nascent Economies – weak private sector, strong government e.g., Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali and Mozambique

Facilitate physical match-making platforms and institutionalize with a local owner (e.g., government or Agri-food Industry Organisations - AFIOs);

Support(digital) public-sector platforms and village-based advisors (VBAs) as last-mile aggregators; and link with seed sector coordination and planning units (Seeds for markets)

Partner with governments and regional trade associations to develop and maintain a regional/national food balance sheet and relevant market information systems.

Transitioning Economies – upcoming private sector e.g., Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda

Facilitate targeted physical match-making platforms and institutionalise with a local owner, preferably a government or AFIO (e.g., for soy in Rwanda with a focus on regional trade)

Promote existing digital platforms

Link more smallholder farmers to existing promising digital platforms, AFIOs and inclusive businesses

Industrializing Economies – strong private sector e.g., Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Zambia

Promote increased adoption of existing technologies by smallholder farmers through off-takers focused on seed, soil fertility, postharvest handling

Promote the use of digital solutions while continuing to facilitate targeted match-making platforms (e.g., cassava in Ghana) and institutionalize these with relevant market actors (e.g., AFIO).