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Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Marketing for Small Agribusinesses

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In a globalised world, as people become more integrated into markets, it is essential not just to produce, but to sell – and to do this, it is increasingly necessary to market products. Markets are widely recognised as a key component of development. Many governments and international donors now embrace the need to enable producers to take advantage – even create – business opportunities. For example, the concept of ‘Making Markets Work for the Poor’ is advocated as a way of bringing the benefits of economic growth to poorer parts of society.

This module is aimed at students and researchers from the academic world and development practitioners – from private business, government departments, international development agencies or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – who work with micro- and small enterprises based mainly but not exclusively in rural areas, what we call ‘small agribusinesses’. It addresses a broad range of economic sectors. The concepts and principles apply not only to smallholder farmers, but also to food processors, traders and intermediaries, collectors and processors of forest products, fishermen, or producers of other natural resource-based artisanal products or handicrafts. Around these product markets there are also linked markets for services, such as wage labour and business support, which are integral to developing a thriving economy.

The module aims to assist students to understand how markets function, develop their skills to support small agribusinesses in marketing their products, and identify ways in which markets and commercial development initiatives can better help the poor.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

Students who complete the Module will be able to:

  • communicate critical appraisal of the importance of markets in economic development and poverty reduction, and the role of marketing as a multiplier of development
  • describe and critically analyse the range of factors in the external environment and internally within an agribusiness that can affect their success in marketing their products
  • illustrate and evaluate how product marketing works and how the marketing concept can be applied to small agribusinesses
  • selectively apply specific methods for market and business analysis in order to identify marketing options and interpret the outcomes
  • selectively use tools and guidelines for small agribusinesses in marketing their products
  • identify specific areas where policy initiatives and interventions may facilitate market access by small agribusinesses and formulate appropriate policy recommendations based on critical appraisal.

Scope and syllabus

The module begins with a brief introduction to markets and marketing in Unit 1, with a focus on the issues facing small agribusinesses when they come to participate in markets. The remaining nine units are grouped into three parts.

Part I, Environmental Analysis (Units 2–4) examines the context, or environment, in which small agribusinesses operate: consumer demands, the political, social, economic, and technical factors that shape markets, as well as the structure and demands of different types of market systems.

Part II, Enterprise Strategy (Units 5–7) focuses on the steps that an individual small agribusiness can take to analyse their own position in the marketing environment and develop their marketing tools and strategy.

Part III, Support Strategy (Units 8–10) expands the focus from the individual agribusiness to the wider issues of how value chains (market chains) function and how markets can be made to work better for small agribusinesses and poverty reduction. Possible intervention points are noted for policy initiatives to start or enhance business activity among individual producers, collective enterprises, and other small firms. A case study in the final unit considers interventions at the industry or sectoral level.

Module sample

P538 module uses a core text which is specially written and will take you through your self-directed study. Exercises, assignments and other activities, such as self-assessment questions, film clips and animations are included to help you with learning. Most module study guides are now provided in electronic format on a USB flash memory stick, but can also be downloaded from the online learning environment. Click the linked image below to view a sample of our e-study guide: