2022 Annual Report Markets: Linking Farmers and Livelihoods

Image depicting the Markets section in the 2022 Annual Report by Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT: Linking Farmers and Livelihoods

Farming may be business, but for farmers to benefit from their labor, it can’t be business as usual. By providing knowledge around emerging market opportunities such as fine flavor cacao or deforestation-free coffee, we helped farmers, including vulnerable groups, women, and youth earn sustainable livelihoods.

Profiling Local Markets

Our researchers and partners spent the year following food wherever it was being sold, from grocery stores to informal marketplaces. In Ethiopia, we gathered value chain actors to co-develop inclusive business models around durum wheat, while also increasing farmers’ yields by up to 25% through use of an agro-advisory decision support tool, with development organization Digital Green. In Colombia, we spoke with both vendors and consumers at Cali’s Galeria, a fruit and vegetable haven, to profile their preferences. And in Vietnam, our Terra-i+ satellite based management tool reduced coffee-driven deforestation and helped companies find ways to reduce coffee's carbon footprint.

Diverse seed boosts incomes

Ethnic minority farmers depend heavily on vegetable cultivation, both for their own household consumption and income. But Alliance-led studies have shown that access to quality seed is a major barrier to nutrition security and gender inclusion in rural Vietnam.  

In 2022, we concluded a collaboration between international and national development organizations to help indigenous farmers, especially women, grow and sell various vegetable seeds and vegetables. In two years, production grew from 70 to 400 tons, a 5-7 times increase. Group and individual incomes also increased, and one participating group registered as a cooperative.

Better products, better profits

The growing high-quality market for one of Latin America’s most popular crops – cacao – seems like an enticing opportunity for farmers. But is it? Our research with FAO suggests that fine flavor cacao will only benefit producers in countries if there is sufficient regulation of quality standards. In Rome, we began construction of a new lab to analyze diverse samples from our Cacao of Excellence Program, with the aim of making this information available to producers hailing from Cameroon to Indonesia. 

“Value-added” or niche market products can also revive traditional cultivation. Tapping into the increasing popularity of plant-based milk, we collaborated with a Peruvian startup that turns orange quinoa (Chullpi anaranjada) into a unique milk product. Sales of this “Milq” have incentivized indigenous farmers to bring varieties back from threatened status. 

Chat with Melisa

A novel way that we are boosting farmers’ decision-making abilities is with Melisa, a chatbot we developed and launched on WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook in Colombia. By chatting with the AI-powered app, farmers are able to learn about weather forecasts, rice and maize crop yields, and stay abreast of market trends. Watch the video to learn how it works.  

Connecting gender and digital inclusion

The digital revolution has reached smallholder farmers everywhere from Latin America to Subharan Africa, with mobile phones delivering useful information like market prices or personalized production advice. However, many digital tools and services are not being adopted by women. Our researchers are working to change this trend by engaging women and other marginalized groups in a user-centered design approach to co-develop agro-service platforms.  

Venturing into new spaces

Our Accelerate for Impact Platform (A4IP) funds and upscale innovations in agriculture, environment, and health, looking both within CGIAR and to external collaborators such as startups and the private sector. In 2022, the A4IP held an agritech bootcamp in Morocco and brought a scientific perspective to entrepreneurs at events such as the G20 and World Agri-Tech Summit. This program aims to attract youth and partners in areas that overlap with our work.  

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