Issues

I provide consulting services in four areas. Two of these might be called issue oriented. These are Small Grower market chain planning and the other is NGO Strategic Realignment. Both of these topics are gaining profile on the Development Agenda, and are likely to be continue to do so in the next three or four years, as the Development Community debates going into and coming out of the Millennium Development Goal change over. Below I propose two scenarios and what to do about them.

SMALL GROWER MARKET SYSTEMS

There are hundreds of millions of African small farmers, as well as a millions of pastoralists, fishermen, artisanal miners and craft workers, facing an uncertain future. On the one hand commercial farming and other new modes of production may put them out of business on the other hand business may develop models to incorporate this product and integrate it into regional and international markets. Of course the final result will be a mix of these two scenarios but the balance of that mix is critical to the prosperity and security of many African countries. As a result of the added risk political risk greater effort will be seen encouraging development entities and business to invest in accelerating building capacity for these groups to participate in the economy.

Small Grower however (and pastoralists and fishermen) can be integrated into global regional and local markets. The essential constraints to participation have already been lowered sufficiently to make participation feasible. The critical step now required is to look into each possibility from a market side point of view. I have combined a number of models and common sense approaches into a system I call Market Intermediary Management which helps commercial companies interact with Small Farmers. This formalized but adjustable method is business oriented and entrepreneurial yet encourages the participation of development resources money. I have applied it on the ground in Horticulture. Its component parts are all known but when taken together form a fresh clear method of developing market-credible small grower supply. It’s applicable to other crops and, with some work and thought, to other sectors such as fishing and mining. Small grower groups want to organize and often get donor money; investors want to develop supply for market or processing; other sectors want to learn from the agriculture sector how to organize. 

NGO REALIGNMENT

There is a growing body of opinion or understanding that Development activities have been greatly and detrimentally affected by a structural imbalance giving far too much strategic weight to supply side concerns rather than demand side needs. The realization of this problem is coalescing into a more focused theme of change whereas until now discussion has been somewhat unlinked and specific to particular situations. Such as: National Agencies develop projects to generate metrics required by their Governments not recipients actual needs; The UN develops Peace plans to keep Security Council members calm, not with regard to the combatants interests; NGOs mount campaigns to raise money based on western guilt not needs on the ground; Other NGOs raise money on the horror of rape with the result that more women are raped. It would appear that the Aid Effectiveness debate will be increasingly important as 2015 approaches and I see the supply vs demand theme to be ever more central and intensively discussed.

In view of the supply/demand issue Aid Agencies will be recalibrating their strategies to ensure, or appear to ensure, demand side focus.  This will be difficult because they themselves are constrained to act in their own Governments interests. NGOs however if they want to receive funds will have to show due attention on this point or lose their chance to Aid funding and be open to criticism. Large International NGOs will handle this strategic transition as a matter of course with internal expertise and high end consultants. Second tier and wholly local NGOs often need outside help to redo strategies or even write them up the first time.


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