Programme profile

CASA: Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness

Malawi Nepal Uganda Asia: South Africa: East, South & Central Agriculture

Programme Index Listing

Malawi, Nepal, Uganda
Main implementer
NIRAS Internaional / TechnoServe
Other implementers
Swisscontact / CAB International / IIED
2019 - 2024
Total budget
GBP £30 million
Annual budget
GBP £6 million
External links
CASA website
Results and reviews
Development impact of concessional finance

Project description / objective

CASA is a five year programme that seeks to change how investors, donors and governments view and invest in agribusinesses that work with smallholder supply chains. 

CASA will increase economic opportunities for smallholder producers by: 

  • Demonstrating the commercial viability of small and medium sized agribusinesses with significant smallholder supply chains and attracting more investment into these businesses
  • Deepening the smallholder impact of existing investments made by development finance institutions and impact investors
  • Enabling poor smallholder farmers to engage with and trade in commercial markets
  • Researching and communicating the case for successful engagement with smallholder-linked agribusiness
Background to CASA
CASA works in Uganda (Beans and Sesame), Malawi (Aquaculture and Poultry), and Nepal (Dairy and Vegetables) to support early stage agribusinesses to prepare for and secure investment and to bring more smallholders into agribusiness supply chains. CASA has three components:
1. Value Chain support will demonstrate interventions in the target countries (Malawi, Uganda and Nepal) leading to mobilisation of investments for partner agri-businesses (which can include commercially minded producer groups)
2. Research, Learning and Communication consolidates existing knowledge and specially commissioned research to support upscaling and replication by the global investor community. CASA cross cutting priorities are Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI), nutrition and food security, and climate change and the environment.
3. CASA 5-year Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) will help investors provide technical assistance to agribusinesses to deepen the impact of their smallholder supply chains. It will also improve the operations and profitability of the agribusiness sourcing models. CASA aims to influence investor approaches to investing in smallholder agriculture.

Market system focus

Uganda - sesame and beans

The sesame and beans sectors have been selected because of their significant potential to increase smallholder incomes, particularly for women, and indirectly improve food security and nutrition through increased food supply.

The anticipated outcomes include increased investment in agribusinesses with significant smallholder supply chains and increased development impact of these investments. This should lead to increased smallholder revenues and productivity; an increased number of jobs and rural income generation opportunities – on farms and in invested agribusinesses.  

Malawi - aquaculture

The fisheries and aquaculture sector in Malawi is important in contributing to food and nutritional security, livelihoods of the rural population and economic growth of the country. It contributes four per cent to GDP. 

Aquaculture is one of the few value chains that is less vulnerable to the increasing direct exposure to climate risks and weather shocks such as drought and floods in Malawi. In addition, the local production of fish in Malawi is still below domestic demand.

Malawi - poultry

Poultry has the potential to transform economic livelihoods of smallholder producers in Malawi, especially for women and youth, and contribute to better household nutrition. Inclusion of smallholders downstream of the poultry value chain will generally contribute to the transformation of the agricultural sector through diversification and commercialisation.

Poultry makes a substantial contribution to food security and nutrition. It provides energy, protein and essential micro-nutrients to humans. It has short production cycles and the ability to convert a wide range of agri-food by-products and wastes into meat and eggs edible by humans. Poultry is the fastest growing agricultural sub-sector, especially in developing countries such as Malawi. The global poultry sector is expected to grow as demand for meat and eggs is driven by growing populations, rising incomes and urbanisation. 

Nepal - dairy

The dairy sector offers promising returns to smallholder dairy farmers by supporting them to maintain regular cash flow from milk sales. This provides other benefits for crop-livestock integrated farming practices. Keeping dairy animals offers smallholders the farmyard manure for increased vegetable production at smallholder household level. It also promotes a diverse farm-level ecosystem, resilient to climate changes.

Dairy farming in Nepal is considered one of the major economic activities for farming households. Milk is an extremely valuable raw material that can be used to make a wide range of high-value products. In recent years there has been a push to commercialise dairy farming.

Nepal - vegetables

Vegetables are emerging as important high value crops in Nepal. It is estimated the vegetable sub-sector involves some 500,000 households and contributes 9.7 per cent to annual GDP. Only 18 per cent of vegetable farmers grow vegetables commercially and only 5 per cent derive their main income from vegetables. Unmet domestic demand and import substitution could enable an additional 300,000 smallholder families to become commercial vegetable producers.

Vegetables play an important role in maintaining food security. Vegetables provide micro-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and slow-release carbohydrates. Vegetable farming is very common in rural areas in Nepal, especially amongst the poor smallholder farmers and is an important source of income. Vegetable crops are efficient to generate cash even from a small plot of land in a short period of time as it has produced high returns per square metre and helps farmers reduce poverty. 

Women often manage vegetable gardens (alongside, increasingly, cereals, livestock. There is scope to promote women’s economic empowerment via the development of the vegetable value chain by focusing on production and improving aggregation and marketing.

Programme interventions

The programme will be implemented in three components:

1. Value chain work in Uganda, Nepal and Malawi applying an inclusive markets approach to achieve:

  • Inclusive supply chains
    Support to businesses, cooperatives and NGOs to link more, poorer farmers to better markets.
  • SME investible deals
    Technical assistance to SMEs and producer organisations to help them access investment.
  • Investment climate
    Support to governments and regulators to improve the enabling environment for farmers and agribusinesses.

2. Global Interventions:

  • Emerging smallholder facility
    Technical assistance and grants to enable larger agribusinesses with DFI or impact investor financing to extend their smallholder impact.
  • Empowering producers in commercial agriculture
    Funding to NGOs to develop and pilot tools and approaches to support local communities to engage and negotiate with agribusiness investments.

3. Learning and Policy Influence:

  • Knowledge and evidence
    Research into key knowledge gaps, work to synthesise evidence and learning from across DFID and donor programming and action to influence investors to invest more in smallholder related agriculture.
  • Montpelier Malabo panel:
    Synthesis of key developments and policy successes in African agriculture and engagement of African ministers in policy reform.

Sector analysis studies have been completed in the six value chains and selected interventions have been identified for pilots in Year 1.

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

Over the next five years CASA will deliver 60 projects:

  • 24 on Technical Assistance to SMEs
  • 24 Support to producer organisations
  • 12 on the Business Enabling Environment

These will benefit 310,000 smallholder producers and raise their net attributable incomes by £16,200,000.

Technical Assistance to SMEs is expected to leverage £4 million in additional private sector investment.
Policy support is expected to influence 20 policy and investment decisions by governments/investors through dialogues/events to be managed by the programme.

[uploaded October 2019]