Sub-Saharan Africa

Market Linkages Initiative (MLI)

Client: United States Agency for International Development

2009-2011, SEGIR GBTI II

The East Africa Market Linkages Initiative Project (MLI) was a two-year, multi-country project that worked alongside partners such as ACTESA (Alliance for Common Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa) to integrate smallholder farmers into more efficient national and regional markets. The project’s goal was to promote food staples and improve food security through a pioneering effort to increase marketing and storage efficiency in the staple food commodity markets. CARANA achieved this goal through four key activities: building the capacity of smallholder producers for pre-storage crop conditioning to ensure higher quality crops and reduce post-harvest losses; improving storage facilities close to rural production areas and supporting the integration of farmer surpluses to these facilities; expanding smallholder producers’ linkages to markets; and developing forums through which implementing partners (governments, NGOs, etc.) shared lessons learned, analyzed impact results, and disseminated findings to inform future program planning.

MLI worked in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Malawi. In Rwanda, it worked closely with the USAID Post Harvest Handling and Storage (PHHS) project. Among other accomplishments, MLI introduced innovative market information systems (Ghana’s ESOKO) for farmers to make informed sales decisions, and increased small farmers’ access to financial services through warehouse receipt systems that could be used as collateral at commercial banks. Through these receipt systems, MLI facilitated $736,000 in formal bank finance to new borrowers. In total, the project trained 34,817 smallholder farmers in post-harvest conditioning and leveraged over $5 million from private sector partners to support project activities, resulting in 96,125 farmers being integrated into national and regional markets, and improved storage for 107,214 MT staple crops.

Other achievements through MLI include:

  • Expanded and strengthened Grain Bulking Systems (GBS) in target locations
  • Enhanced capacity of smallholder farmers to integrate into GBS
  • Sustained GBS operations in relevant market institutions
  • Institutional platforms that disseminate lessons learned and best practices

Download the project's Fact Sheet and Brochure

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