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Mudyazvivi E.,Netherlands Development Organization SNV | Maunze S.,Netherlands Development Organization SNV
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2010

Failed market linkages involving smallholder farmers are numerous in Zimbabwe. Business skills of smallholders appear to be one of the weakest links in the chain. This is partly because development organizations pull out before farmers have obtained sufficient business skills to sustain new business relationships. An important issue therefore is to find a sustainable model of developing farmers' capacities to enhance the success of value chain development programs. There is general recognition that solving this problem entails developing a market (demand and supply) for business development services. Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), a capacity development organization undertook action research that involved reviewing lessons from past market-linkage cases and exploring innovations in the process of developing banana value chains in Zimbabwe. A promising approach emerged that involves local capacity builders (LCB). SNV concluded that using LCBs is potentially a more efficient, effective and sustainable way to develop the business competencies of smallholders compared to approaches where international non-governmental organizations and value chain champions lead the process. This is attributable to their deeper connections to the needs and cultures of smallholders. However, this seems more applicable at startup stage as LCBs appear to struggle to meet business skill requirements in more complex and more developed stages of the value chain. International development agencies' role could be providing funds to stimulate smallholder demand for business development services and upgrading the services of the local service providers to deal with complex business needs.

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