Building and strengthening linkages among farmers, businesses and consumer markets
The Land O’Lakes development approach to market access accomplishes this by focusing on adding value to agricultural commodities, reducing post-harvest loss, improving product quality and strengthening business development services with the potential to improve business performance. These efforts enable agricultural producers and businesses to become key drivers of broad-based rural socio-economic development.
Smallholder farmers often produce agriculture in challenging, remote environments. Their access to information, support services and infrastructure is limited, particularly when they work in isolation from well-functioning businesses. A market system that does not function well severely limits not only the economic development of smallholder farmers, but also the growth of small and medium enterprises that also play critical roles in agriculture value chains.
At Land O’Lakes, we recognize that farmers and agricultural enterprises are part of larger market systems that need to provide mutual benefits to every entity within the ecosystem. We have found that developing market access systems is most effective when effort is spent both on improving the networks across such organizations, and building the capacity of the organizations within them. This approach provides economic incentives for production, distribution and value addition from the smallest-scale producers to large-scale businesses and processors. Success is measured through impacts such as business growth and increased profitability on the farm and across enterprises in the value chain. Job creation and increased standards of living become by-products of sustained economic growth.
Our experience has shown that cooperatives, or member-owned businesses, are particularly effective when there are high levels of social capital and strong economic incentives to act collectively. By bringing smallholder farmers together into market- and profit-minded groups, and enabling them to aggregate what they buy and sell, Land O’Lakes helps to increase their bargaining power. The inclusive nature of member-driven and service-oriented producer organizations also helps ensure that smallholder farmers can participate in income generating activities within their communities.
As the second-largest member-owned agribusiness in the United States, Land O'Lakes uniquely understands how to effectively assist agro-enterprises in developing markets to increase their productivity, profitability and market share. By helping enterprises gain access to business development, finance and market information services, we are able to strengthen their business and operational capacity. We not only bolster small and medium-sized enterprises directly operating in commercial agricultural and food-system markets, but also firms providing the complementary services needed to make agricultural market systems strong and vibrant.
Our approach is facilitative and creates connections and better developed networks within the market economy among the following types of actors:
Producers and Buyers: This includes farmers, farmer organizations, cooperatives and businesses that are focused on product creation, value addition activities and the delivery of products to the end consumer.
Providers of Business Services: Examples include organizations that provide financial services, technologies, equipment and other value added products and services to business enterprises.
Investors: Private and public sector participants that provide growth capital to enterprises and share in the risk and rewards of the market.
Macro-economic environment enablers: This includes a broad group of stakeholders including government and industry associations that influence the laws, policies, regulations and economic output of the industries we work in.
Click here for our Market Access fact sheet