SEEP 2017: Creating Commercial Farmers

Creating Commercial Farmers: Partnering on Social Sector Franchising to Develop Food Systems in Cambodia

by Andy Hunter, World Vision Australia *originally posted on 

Building scalable and sustainable food systems presents many challenges along farming value chains – not least of which is the point where our small holder farmers interact with agricultural inputs. For an isolated farmer with limited education, making wise choices about farming can be challenging, meaning that many farmers fall short of the mark when it comes to running successful commercial enterprises.

As part of this session at the 2017 SEEP Annual Conference, World Vision will reveal some of its programming in partnership with iDE’s social enterprise Lors Thmey in Cambodia. Together we are addressing the root causes of this insidious market constraint by using a social sector franchising approach.

The MASE Project

Known as The MASE Project, this Australian Government DFAT (ANCP) funded project has finished two successful years and has just been given the green light for a five year extension valued at US$3.2m. Last year we were pleased to present this partnership to the SEEP conference, along with some early indicators of success. This year we’ve been asked back to share the freshly collated impact numbers thanks to our external research partner, Causal Design.

iDE have established a franchised network of private Farm Business Advisors who serve farmers in their community selling a range of high-quality agricultural inputs backed up by technical advice from support staff, including commercial agronomists who provide technical support and ongoing customer service. In the first two years of MASE, we invested the Australian Government DFAT funding to test and develop the creation of an off take model owned and operated by the very same enterprise that delivers the inputs and agronomic advice. It worked.

Not only has the project seen a measurable increase in incomes by 67% of participating farmers but the small entrepreneurs who sell the inputs have managed to increase their product volume sales by over 300%.

During this SEEP Session, Causal Design will be pleased to present their preliminary findings from the Impact Research, which will offer more evidence on our progress in developing the input supply chain. The research also speaks to household economic advancement and its impact on children and families.

Meet some of our hardworking Cambodian staff in this 5-minute visual overview of how the project works:

Learning at #SEEP2017

We look forward to seeing you at the 2017 SEEP Annual Conference in Washington, DC this October for an interactive Peer Learning Session titled, “Sustainable Food Systems, Livelihoods and Healthier Communities through Social Franchising” and hearing your questions and comments, either in person or by using the official conference hashtag #SEEP2017 on Twitter.

Andy works for World Vision Australia’s Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (SEED) Unit as the Senior Economic Development Consultant – Market Systems Development. Andy’s portfolio includes Market Systems programming across Asia Pacific, East Africa and the Middle East, designing and supporting market led interventions that engage the private sector. He moved into International Development via UNICEF, Red Cross and Salvation Army, after having worked in the private sector across Melbourne in his capacity in Business Development and Entrepreneurship.

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