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Rapid changes are taking place in the structure and governance of national and regional agri-food markets in developing countries, affecting the ability of agriculture to contribute to economic growth, poverty reduction and sustainable rural development. Small-scale agriculture, which supports the livelihoods of the majority of rural poor, is poorly prepared for these changes.

In recognition of this challenge, an intensive two-year programme (2005-2007) of collaborative research and policy support is being undertaken to understand the keys to inclusion into agri-food systems under different degrees of restructuring, to deepen the research on implications and opportunities for small-scale producers and SMEs, to understand what is best practice in connecting small-scale producers with dynamic markets, and to bring these findings into the wider policy arena.

The focus is on dynamic restructured national and regional markets that are displacing existing chains and their interface with small-scale farmers and local rural economies.

The programme goal is to secure more equitable producer and SME benefits in response to the unprecedented and dynamic changes in agri-food markets within developing and transition economies. Three objectives contribute to achieving the programme goal:

  • To generate high quality and policy-relevant research contributing to public and private sector policy formulation at national and international levels;
  • To identify innovative practice in connecting small-scale producers and SMEs with dynamic markets; and
  • To engage with policy processes through structures and processes for policy dialogue between key public and private sector stakeholders, which bring poor and small-scale rural producers into policy making; and thereby inform future public and private sector policy with practical approaches that allow them to anticipate trends in market restructuring.

Each objective corresponds to one of the three components of the programme:

  1. empirical research
  2. development of innovation and good practice
  3. research-to-policy platforms.

Components for regoverning markets

Component 2 of the Regoverning Markets Programme is a comparative in-depth empirical analysis of 30 cases where small-scale producers and SMEs connected successfully to dynamic markets – i.e. in chains that feature prominently modern agri-processors and/or supermarkets. This document outlines a case study method to analyse these innovative experiences of inclusion.

While the document does not aim to provide a blueprint, it does emphasize the common elements that must be present in each Component 2 activity in order to be able to build a synthesis and a coherent set of conclusions and recommendations, starting from 32 very diverse and highly decentralized activities taking place throughout the world.

Document organisation

After this introductory section, the document is organized as follows:

  • Section 2 describes the approach, objectives and outcomes of Component 2 of the Regoverning Markets Programme.
  • Section 3 provides some guidelines for the selection of case studies under Component 2. *Section 4 defines the questions for the case studies.
  • Section 5 defines the framework for the comparative analysis of the 30 case studies.
  • Section 6 provides suggestions for fieldwork methodology.
  • Section 7 provides terms of reference for the case study reports.