What We've Learned

Lessons from our Projects

TechnoServe’s projects yield a wealth of lessons that can help us – and others – improve our work. Through this interactive platform, we share succinct insights from our projects every year, in order to build on this knowledge for even greater impact in the future.

Select a technical field below to see the lessons we have learned from our work, and click the links to learn more.

Mozambique
Agribusiness
Agribusiness

Farmers need to see short-term payoffs, so it is important to balance the planting of crops that take years to bear fruit with more short-term wins, such as rejuvenating existing plants.

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Capacity Building
Mozambique
Agribusiness
Agribusiness

Providing business training to large, influential “anchor” firms that purchase large amounts of crops from smallholder farmers can help the businesses forge stronger market linkages and develop better financial management, ultimately benefiting smallholders.

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Capacity Building Market Links
Mozambique
Agribusiness
Agribusiness

When a project's strategy for reaching smallholders relies on working with agribusinesses that source their crops, it is helpful to identify a pipeline of other potential partner firms. Relying on just a handful of firms exposes the project to risk.

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Market Links
Zimbabwe
Agribusiness
Agribusiness

Many successful agribusiness innovations address bottlenecks across the value chain (e.g. from production to market) with very clear, meaningful returns to the farmer and the business. For example, when a firm invested in innovative new dryers that reduced post-harvest loss and allowed crops to be continuously harvested during the rainy season, both farmers and the business benefitted.

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Market Links Technology
Zimbabwe
Agribusiness
Agribusiness

It takes time for small and growing businesses to become attractive investments for private equity and commercial funding. The agribusiness supported by this project in Zimbabwe took 24 to 36 months, on average, to commercialize their ideas and begin to demonstrate viable impact.

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Access to Finance Market Links
Mozambique
Cashew
Cashew

Improving farmers’ access to inputs requires a supply-and-demand approach that simultaneously:

  1. Develops better distribution channels
  2. Builds commercial demand for the products among farmers by clearly explaining their benefits.

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Capacity Building Inputs Market Links
Mozambique
Cashew
Cashew

Because processing is a high-volume, low-margin industry, firms are reluctant to make investments that increase costs or slows production. Therefore, if purchasers want to encourage certified, traceable production, they need to commit to paying premiums.

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Market Links
Peru
Cocoa
Cocoa

Participation in trade events can dramatically accelerate the sales growth of SMEs.

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Market Links
Peru
Cocoa
Cocoa

Planting new areas in recently eradicated coca-growing zones requires careful selection of beneficiaries and the provision of alternative incomes while crops are being established.

Honduras
Coffee
Coffee

Engaging large buyers to provide low-cost credit to farmers and producer organizations in their supply chain can sustainably improve farmer productivity. Cash loans for farm maintenance, credit lines for working capital, and in-kind loans of inputs help farmers improve yields and ensure that buyers receive a stable supply of crops.

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Access to Finance Market Links
Honduras
Coffee
Coffee

Community seed banks are more likely to succeed and continue operating when they are linked to a producer organization and have access to an irrigation system.

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Inputs Market Links Organization
India
Livestock
Livestock

While farmers will eventually see that more carefully tending to their livestock results in the animals' improved health and greater profits, it is helpful for buyers in the value chain to initially provide a small incentive for clean milk, to convince farmers to adopt improved practices.

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Capacity Building Market Links
India
Livestock
Livestock

Dairy farmers are often motivated to improve productivity when they see local businesses investing in supply chain improvements, like cooling tanks; projects can therefore encourage this investment as a way of ultimately enhancing dairy farmer livelihoods.

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Capacity Building Market Links
Kenya
Small and Growing Businesses
Small and Growing Businesses

Joining official business groups helps shop owners to improve coordination and collaboration among themselves and key market actors, while also increasing collective bargaining power with manufacturers and suppliers.

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Market Links Organization
Kenya
Small and Growing Businesses
Small and Growing Businesses

Since location/environment plays a major role in a shop's success, it is critical for the stores to conduct a location scan and simple needs assessment before selecting a product range.

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Market Links