Farmers in Nepal

Farmers in Nepal

A new five-year £30 million UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded programme is aiming to improve the livelihoods of 565,000 smallholder farmers and their families in Uganda, Malawi and Nepal by stimulating investment in emerging agri-markets.

The Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme, a key part (Component A & C) of which is led by NIRAS in partnership with CABI and Swisscontact, will see at least £4 million of additional investment mobilised into six agricultural market systems and the growth of SME agribusinesses resulting in at least 3,000 jobs in the three countries – Uganda, Malawi and Nepal

A second component of CASA – Component B – is being led by the international non-profit TechnoServe that will manage a five-year, £8 million initiative to increase technical assistance delivered by investors to agribusinesses that source from smallholder farmers in the developing world.

At least half of those to benefit from Component A of the programme will be women farmers and at least 30 percent of whom are living on under $2 a day. It is expected that those participating will see their incomes increased by up to £80 a year as well as positive changes in nutrition, climate resilience, with women being empowered at business, and household level.

Component A of CASA will focus on supporting sesame and beans in Uganda, poultry and aquaculture in Malawi and dairy and vegetables in Nepal.

Ultimately, CASA aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers by facilitating their equitable engagement in expanding commercial markets while enhancing the sustainability and climate resilience of farming systems and supporting the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems.

NIRAS will assume the overall responsibility for programme management of Component A in these three countries and also its global learning and influencing activities under Component C. The consortium will draw upon extensive experience in gender mainstreaming. For example, NIRAS have implemented multiple ‘gender help desks’ as part of a previous collaboration with the EU, EBRD and SIDA.

Kristina Mastroianni, NIRAS’ Technical Director for Agriculture and also CASA’s Programme Director, said, “The programme is a unique opportunity to achieve real systemic change through researching concrete practices of value chain development and showing investors what a great business case smallholder farming systems can be.”

CABI’s expertise in communications and engagement activities will also help place knowledge into the hands of investors in agribusiness by reaching at least 1,000 government, donor or business stakeholders face-to-face through three Smallholder Investor Summit events in East and Southern Africa and Nepal.

Dr Dennis Rangi, CABI’s Director General – Development, said, “By working together to foster the importance of agriculture as a business, we can make a difference in empowering smallholder farmers, both male and female, to increase their yields and improve their livelihoods and ultimately strengthen local, national and global food chains and food security for all.”

Swisscontact will draw on years of global inclusive markets systems experience, including women’s economic empowerment and through their active engagement in the regions will ensure a cost-effective and fast approach to building the design and implementation capacity as well as confidence of the country teams.

Ailsa Buckley, Swisscontact’s Senior IM mentor for Central, East and Southern Africa believes, “CASA is the perfect opportunity for us to partner with system actors to demonstrate sustainable and scale-able business models that promote smallholder aggregation and agri-investment.”

Under Component B, TechnoServe’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) will partner with investors to demonstrate how technical assistance (TA) can strengthen the commercial viability and development impact of agribusinesses that source from smallholders.

Drawing on TechnoServe’s extensive experience of managing the African Agricultural Fund’s Technical Assistance Facility for the past seven years, the CASA-TAF will select medium and large-sized agribusinesses from investor portfolios. Over the next 5 years, the CASA-TAF will work with these businesses to address the company’s needs when engaging smallholders – from farmer extension and access to farm inputs, to mechanisation and climate-smart agriculture. The project aims to benefit over 100,000 smallholders with a total SHF income increase of £13 million ($17 million).

During the 5-year programme, TechnoServe will convene investors – from Development Finance Institutions to Private Equity players – to demonstrate the commercial and social impact that strategic TA can have. The overall objective is to raise investor expectations regarding the level of development impact for future investments, and increase the provision of development impact TA provided by investors.

Abigail Thomson, Director of the CASA TAF commented, “We are excited to work with investors across the developing world to demonstrate to them and to the wider investor community how investing in agricultural supply chains through inclusive technical assistance produces a win-win outcome for both commercial returns and raising incomes of smallholder farmers.”

In addition, some of the innovations and achievements of the programme will be covered by SciDev.Net – the world’s leading source of reliable and authoritative news, views and analysis about science and technology for global development.

Additional information


NIRAS’ history is rooted in the agriculture sector for 45 years, originally owned by the Swedish and Danish farmers’ association. NIRAS has successfully delivered over £300 million worth of TA to climate smart, gender mainstreamed and nutrition sensitive agriculture and agribusiness programmes in more than 180 countries.


CABI leads the delivery of research and communications drawing on their status as a world leader in agriculture with a strong scientific reputation and vast track record. It is also the parent organization of SciDev.Net, an independent news network focusing on science in the global South.


Swisscontact’s Inclusive Markets approach ensures efficient, effective and trust-based engagement with female and male smallholder farmers and their organisations, SMEs, advocacy and regulatory partners in each market system.


Owned by a foundation and a percentage of its employees, NIRAS is an international multi-disciplinary consultancy firm with Nordic roots and values creating sustainable development solutions for a better, more equal, and stable world. We work across a broad spectrum of areas including construction, energy, water, environment, and infrastructure to rural development, the process industry, economic development, geodata, as well as urban planning. Our mission is to deliver tailored, innovative, value-creating, and results-driven solutions to enable our clients and partners, achieve their goals. We achieve this by providing transformative support for positive change, addressing root causes, and magnifying impact through flexibility in implementation, capturing SDG-linked results, and celebrating successes.

We collaborate with international development organisations, donors, governments, institutional investors, and the private sector to design, manage, and evaluate projects and services that create opportunities for people to improve their lives and live in safe, equal, well-governed, and climate-resilient societies. We do this in partnership with our country offices and our extensive network of experts to ensure a comprehensive, results-driven approach that is both contextually sensitive and produces innovative outcomes for maximum value. NIRAS applies the highest ethical standards wherever we operate, be it in fragile, post-conflict, least developed, emerging, or middle-income economies.

About Swisscontact

Swisscontact promotes economic, social and ecological development by giving people the opportunity to improve their living conditions on their own. In its project work, Swisscontact facilitates access to vocational training, promotes local entrepreneurship, creates access to local financial services and supports the efficient use of resources with the aim of effectively promoting income and employment.

Swisscontact was founded in 1959 as an independent foundation of personalities from the Swiss economy and science. It is exclusively active in international cooperation and has been carrying out its own and mandated projects since 1961. Since its foundation, Swisscontact has been close to the private sector. In 2018, Swisscontact was active in 36 countries with around 1,200 employees. The Foundation’s registered office is in Zurich.

About SciDev.Net

SciDev.Net is the world’s leading source of reliable and authoritative news, views and analysis about science and technology for global development.

Our Mission is to use independent journalism to help individuals and organisations apply science to decision-making in order to drive equitable, sustainable development and poverty reduction. SciDev.Net is part of CAB International (CABI) – a not-for-profit organisation that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

SciDev.Net operates editorially independently from CABI with its content overseen by an independent Editorial Advisory Committee whose role is to ensure our editorial independence protocol is adhered to. The protocol is available on request.

About TechnoServe

TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A nonprofit organization operating in 29 countries, we work with enterprising men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. By linking people to information, capital, and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities. With 50 years of proven results, TechnoServe believes in the power of private enterprise to transform lives.

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