Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE)
Many smallholder farmers in developing countries struggle to access improved seeds, quality fertilizers and crop protection products at the right time, in the right quantity and quality and at the right price. Many also often lack access to credit. Then, after harvest they often struggle to sell their crops at prices that cover their costs and generate additional income.
The ultimate goal of Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE) is to give these farmers the knowledge and tools they need to increase the amount and quality of their crops and then to link them to profitable markets so that they can sell their produce. Through the CASE approach, IFDC strengthens farmers’ capacities at every level.
CASE combines Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) and the development of competitive commodity chains (the path goods travel from producer to consumer). ISFM strategies include the combined use of mineral fertilizers and locally available organic amendments (crop residues, compost and green manure) to replenish soil nutrients and improve the efficiency of fertilizers and other inputs (seeds, crop protection products and water).
Empowerment is a crucial element of CASE. Empowerment can include helping farmers learn more productive farming techniques and lobby for better and/or stronger agricultural laws, better services from public organizations, protection and improvement of their rights and transparency at all levels of policymaking. Through CASE, farmers and local entrepreneurs learn to identify agricultural production and business opportunities and invest in their own future.
CASE is based on agribusiness cluster formation and the strengthening of public and private institutions’ ability to enable agribusiness and trade. Agribusiness cluster formation is the coordination among various stakeholders at the grassroots level, including small farmers, local entrepreneurs, traders, bankers, research and extension services and market information systems.
“CASE was developed from real field- and enterprise-level learning experiences,” according to Dr. Arno Maatman, former IFDC representative in Mali and chief of party for the Strategic Alliance for Agricultural Development in Africa (SAADA). “It is based on the recognition that smallholder farmers, local processors, input dealers and warehouse managers don’t know each other well. Often, they even distrust each other. That limits their potential to work together to increase their individual and collective incomes and improve their lives.”
CASE was developed by Maatman and his IFDC team. Maatman is currently the director of the International Centre for development oriented Research in Agriculture.
CASE is a cornerstone of IFDC’s work in Africa. The approach has benefited more than 600,000 West African farmers through improvements in the fertility of their soils as well as initial or greater access to agricultural input and output (produce) markets. Crop yields in areas that have used CASE have doubled and incomes from the increased agricultural yields have increased by 30-50 percent.
The IFDC project From Thousands to Millions (1000s+) used CASE to increase agricultural productivity and economic growth for more than 700,000 households in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. IFDC’s CATALIST project is implementing the CASE approach in its activities in Central Africa.
“The CASE approach isn’t a miracle solution,” Maatman stated. “But it brings participants together, develops cluster-level action plans and progressively promotes a collective understanding of potential competitive advantages.”
Photo by Meg Ross
United Through Markets