Related Research

Scaling Irrigation for Small-Scale Producers: The Role of Private Sector Solutions

A report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. We articulate the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector.

Read More
Mapping of Digital Solutions to Support Financial Services Providers in Assessing Climate Impact on Agricultural Portfolios

With support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), we mapped the landscape of climate risk digital solutions on both a global and market level to support the financial sector in managing risk when serving clients in agriculture.

Read More
Assessment of investment funds supporting tropical forest areas and communities

Explores impact funds focused on forest-dependent communities and smallholder farmers, identifying best practices, gaps, and opportunities for investment to share with the broader impact investing community.

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

Irrigation can play a key role in developing the agricultural sector in Sub-Saharan Africa by addressing barriers, gaps, and risks at the production stage of food systems, especially for small-scale producers (SSP). Despite this promise, just ~3-6% of total cropland in the region is irrigated, lagging far behind the global average of ~20%. The potential to expand irrigation in places with sufficient water availability could amount to an additional 19 million hectares of irrigated croplands (~7% of total), impacting an estimated 20-30 million SSP households across the region. Limited existing adoption is due to barriers in knowledge, technology, finance, and policy/legal dimensions.

Fortunately, innovative business models and technologies are emerging that address some of these constraints in an effort to scale irrigation for small-scale producers across the region.

ISF Advisors and Hystra are pleased to announce a new report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. The research articulates the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector. Key goals of the work also included:

  1. Summarize the impacts of access to irrigation for small-scale producers and overall market potential in Sub-Saharan Africa
  2. Identify barriers at the customer, company, and country levels that are preventing irrigation potential from being realized
  3. Unpack emerging private sector solutions that could scale irrigation usage
  4. Explore potential for future collaboration between key actors in the space

This report presents our findings from an extensive desk review of existing research, interviews with 70+ key stakeholders in the sector, and in-depth case studies of 6 private sector solution providers. The intended audience is the broader agricultural development community, including donors, private sector actors, investors, government stakeholders, researchers, and recipients.

This research was made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The opinions and findings expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategy, or funding priorities of the Foundation.

Read the report summary and watch the webinar recording.

Related Research

Climate Capital: Financing Adaptation Pathways for Smallholder Farmers

A first-of-its-kind report shedding light on the pressing need and opportunities for private investment in climate adaptation within the agriculture sectors of emerging markets, focusing on the pivotal role of smallholder farmers.

Read More
State of the Sector: Agri-SME Finance

A new perspective on the agri-SME finance market: sizing and segmenting the market in new ways, reflecting on the rapidly accelerating imperative around climate, and identifying new priorities for action.

Read More
State of the Sector: Pathways to Prosperity

This State of the Sector report identifies agenda-defining priorities that the sector must address to bridge the finance gap for smallholder households and agricultural SMEs, and introduces new models for navigating an increasingly sophisticated agricultural finance market.

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

Agricultural small and medium enterprises (agri-SMEs) play a crucial role in the economic development and advancement of emerging markets. Despite their significance, agri-SMEs still encounter formidable challenges in achieving key growth objectives such as generating revenue and creating employment opportunities. Business Development Services (BDS) are integral in supporting agri-SMEs to grow and thrive, but the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of such programs remain poorly understood.

To address this barrier, ISF analyzed BDS tools and methodologies provided to agri-SMEs in East and West Africa. This report presents findings from an extensive desk review of existing research, an analysis of data collected from 15 BDS provider case studies, and interviews with stakeholders in the space.

This work builds on previous learnings to deepen best practices related to the needs of agri-SMEs and the tools and approaches that could lead to improved BDS provision models. If you’re a BDS provider interested in analyzing the effectiveness, cost-efficiency, and fee coverage of your own services, you can download and utilize our measurement tool here.

Read the full report below, and watch the webinar discussion about this research here.

Related Research

SMEs in Food Systems: A Framework for Engagement

Our framework developed around the structure and key dynamics of food systems – focusing in particular on the role of agri-SMEs – and applied through two country studies in Colombia and Uganda to support the Argidius Foundation.

View Report
Assessing the Cost Efficiency and Effectiveness of Business Development Services for Agri-SMEs

A summary of key findings from our analysis of BDS tools and methodologies provided to agri-SMEs in East and West Africa.

Read More
Landscape Assessment of Agro-Industrial Parks in Uganda

Our landscape assessment in partnership with USAID’s Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP) Activity explores the primary opportunities for donors to further support the Government of Uganda’s ambitious agro-industrialization agenda, a key goal in its latest National Development Plan (NDPIII, 2020).

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

The last decade has seen increasing recognition by policymakers, capital providers, and finance practitioners of the vital role played by agricultural small- and medium-sized enterprises (agri-SMEs) in agriculture and food systems in developing countries, as well as their key challenge of limited access to finance.

In sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, there is an estimated USD 160 billion demand for financing by ~220,000 agri-SMEs. However, we estimate that only USD 54 billion (~34%) is currently being met through formal finance channels—leaving an annual financing gap of USD 106 billion.

These headline estimates are large, but reflect in numbers what most practitioners have experienced through working with agri-SMEs. Digging beyond numbers, our new State of the Sector report with CASA introduces a more specific view of where the market for agri-SME finance is (and isn’t) clearing.

To add new perspective, this report breaks down the market in a more comprehensive and holistic way to show where finance is specifically flowing, via specific types of products from specific types of funders to specific types of agri-SMEs. The report also presents four long-term change priorities that we see as crucial to systematically closing the USD 106 billion agri-SME financing gap over time.

Related Research

Scaling Irrigation for Small-Scale Producers: The Role of Private Sector Solutions

A report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. We articulate the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector.

Read More
State of the Sector: Pathways to Prosperity

This State of the Sector report identifies agenda-defining priorities that the sector must address to bridge the finance gap for smallholder households and agricultural SMEs, and introduces new models for navigating an increasingly sophisticated agricultural finance market.

View Report
Agricultural “Platforms” in a Digital Era: Defining the Landscape

We define the current landscape of agricultural Platforms, their risk and impact potential, and the path forward for supporting their growth.

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

Related Research

Scaling Irrigation for Small-Scale Producers: The Role of Private Sector Solutions

A report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. We articulate the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector.

Read More
State of the Sector: Agri-SME Finance

A new perspective on the agri-SME finance market: sizing and segmenting the market in new ways, reflecting on the rapidly accelerating imperative around climate, and identifying new priorities for action.

Read More
Agricultural “Platforms” in a Digital Era: Defining the Landscape

We define the current landscape of agricultural Platforms, their risk and impact potential, and the path forward for supporting their growth.

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

Related Research

Scaling Irrigation for Small-Scale Producers: The Role of Private Sector Solutions

A report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. We articulate the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector.

Read More
State of the Sector: Agri-SME Finance

A new perspective on the agri-SME finance market: sizing and segmenting the market in new ways, reflecting on the rapidly accelerating imperative around climate, and identifying new priorities for action.

Read More
State of the Sector: Pathways to Prosperity

This State of the Sector report identifies agenda-defining priorities that the sector must address to bridge the finance gap for smallholder households and agricultural SMEs, and introduces new models for navigating an increasingly sophisticated agricultural finance market.

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

In 2018, ISF Advisors, in partnership with the Syngenta Foundation, published Protecting Growing Prosperity: Agricultural Insurance in the Developing World. Alongside the release of that report, more than 100 industry stakeholders convened to consider solutions for maximizing the uptake and impact of insurance for smallholder farming households. However, since that time, the climate crisis has rapidly escalated and the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted market dynamics for smallholder farmers. These trends called for a new convening and reflection process for the sector. 

To that end, this 2022 State of the Sector update was commissioned by a new partnership of donors—including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Syngenta Foundation, FSD Africa, and Swiss Re Foundation—and written by ISF Advisors with support from the Microinsurance Network. The findings of this report were shared and debated in a virtual industry convening of over 130 stakeholders in January 2022. Key ideas and reactions from these discussions have been captured in this report, which sets out to: 

  • Take stock of the current state of agri-insurance for smallholder households, distilling what has changed in the sector since 2018; 
  • Introduce new ways of thinking about the sector in the form of four deep dives; and 
  • Propose a set of priority areas to guide work over the next 5 years. 

We hope that this research will continue to support the insights, partnerships and investments needed to respond to the climate crisis, with smallholder farmers at the center of the action agenda. 

Related Research

Scaling Irrigation for Small-Scale Producers: The Role of Private Sector Solutions

A report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. We articulate the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector.

Read More
State of the Sector: Agri-SME Finance

A new perspective on the agri-SME finance market: sizing and segmenting the market in new ways, reflecting on the rapidly accelerating imperative around climate, and identifying new priorities for action.

Read More
State of the Sector: Pathways to Prosperity

This State of the Sector report identifies agenda-defining priorities that the sector must address to bridge the finance gap for smallholder households and agricultural SMEs, and introduces new models for navigating an increasingly sophisticated agricultural finance market.

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

Related Research

Effectiveness & Efficiency of Business Development Services (BDS) for Agri-SMEs

A study to identify and assess the efficiency and effectiveness of business development services (BDS) tools and methodologies provided to agri-SMEs in East and West Africa.

Read More
Assessing the Cost Efficiency and Effectiveness of Business Development Services for Agri-SMEs

A summary of key findings from our analysis of BDS tools and methodologies provided to agri-SMEs in East and West Africa.

Read More
Landscape Assessment of Agro-Industrial Parks in Uganda

Our landscape assessment in partnership with USAID’s Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP) Activity explores the primary opportunities for donors to further support the Government of Uganda’s ambitious agro-industrialization agenda, a key goal in its latest National Development Plan (NDPIII, 2020).

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

Related Research

Agricultural “Platforms” in a Digital Era: Defining the Landscape

We define the current landscape of agricultural Platforms, their risk and impact potential, and the path forward for supporting their growth.

View Report
Mapping of Digital Solutions to Support Financial Services Providers in Assessing Climate Impact on Agricultural Portfolios

With support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), we mapped the landscape of climate risk digital solutions on both a global and market level to support the financial sector in managing risk when serving clients in agriculture.

Read More
How Digital Agricultural Platforms Can Better Engage Rural Women

In new research with CGAP and Value for Women, we look at how digital agricultural platforms can best integrate gender-forward practices, what the major opportunity areas are for creating shared value, and how donors and investors can support these efforts.

Read More

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.

Related Research

Climate Capital: Financing Adaptation Pathways for Smallholder Farmers

A first-of-its-kind report shedding light on the pressing need and opportunities for private investment in climate adaptation within the agriculture sectors of emerging markets, focusing on the pivotal role of smallholder farmers.

Read More
Scaling Irrigation for Small-Scale Producers: The Role of Private Sector Solutions

A report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. We articulate the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector.

Read More
Agricultural “Platforms” in a Digital Era: Defining the Landscape

We define the current landscape of agricultural Platforms, their risk and impact potential, and the path forward for supporting their growth.

View Report

Want to learn more?

Contact us or sign up for our newsletter.