The ambitious current wave of agriculture development projects – public, private and – expressly profess to break with 60 years of underperformance in support for smallholder agriculture in Africa and South Asia.
These projects share with their discredited predecessors a supply side approach that seeks to introduce something exogenous to improve agriculture outcomes. The introduced factors vary, including improved seeds to fertilisers to pest control and resource management to other agronomic techniques to supply chain efficiencies, improved production technologies, to better market access. The list goes on, driven by the technological ingenuity and commitment of highly educated agriculture specialists from the Global North. This article argues that these bold supply side efforts run the risk of badly underperforming or even failing unless they build in real accountability to the intended beneficiaries – smallholder farmers – through systematic feedback loops. The argument draws from the business management canon of customer satisfaction.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 41.6 (2010) Private Sector Metrics Contributions to Social Change: Customer Satisfaction Meets Agriculture Development