Imani’s goal is to channel the overwhelming level of support to the agricultural sector into development that improves competitiveness in a pro-poor manner. Imani therefore approaches agriculture at both a macro and micro level – from developing national agricultural policies to linking smallholder farmers with markets for their produce.

Imani has developed a specialisation in agricultural value chain analysis (VCA) and value chain development (VCA/VCD) and has completed these for a range of clients and various crops and commodities. VCA work is often conducted as part of a wider piece of consultancy that we have delivered. A market assessment is usually undertaken to determine which value chains will be analysed and thus developed as part of a specified project or programme.

View our latest Agricultural Development Capacity Statement by clicking here.

Agricultural development principles:

  • Context Specific: Imani’s use of staff on the ground ensures we are well positioned to undertake the collection of primary data and conduct consultations that make our work grounded in the context of implementation. The thorough understanding of local nuances ensures analyses and strategies that are practical and implementable.
  • Market Based: We base our analysis on the current market structure, future growth possibilities and market dynamics. In order to be sustainable, this theory must be applied, as it is the market that dictates the characteristics of the sector and the individual value chains within it.
  • Targets Market Players: Support to agricultural development is often approached via an external player, such as an NGO, assuming the role of an internal player. Imani focuses on permanent market players to increase the project’s sustainability when the player withdraws at the conclusion of a project.
  • Time Period of Intervention:. Imani takes into account small-scale farmers hesitation towards production and marketing and recommends agricultural development programmes that are of a suitable time frame.

Project Highlights:

European Union – Kenyan Initiative for Long-Term Integration of Market Operators in Value Chains (KILIMO-VC) (2018 – 2023)
The KILIMO-VC Challenge Fund is designed and implemented by Imani Development and Gorta Self Help Africa (SHA). The objective is to improve the capacity of 100,000 smallholder farmers and pastoralists to practise environmentally sustainable and climate-smart agriculture and a business in inclusive value chains. Through an innovative challenge fund approach, KILIMO-VC will also sub-grant approximately €19 million through a competitive call for funding. Target sectors of the grant will be the agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sectors, including their respective down-stream industries.

Imani’s role in the management of KILIMO-VC includes technical design of the fund, technical assistance (including the provision of value chain assessments using the Market Systems Development and Sustainable Livelihoods frameworks), due diligence of applicants, and the provision of technical support and business development services to successful applicants.

Department for International Development – Business Innovation Facility II (2014 – 2019)
This is a ground-breaking DFID programme (launched 2010) to actively identify and support inclusive business project opportunities in five pilot countries; BIF II (BIF2) is a continuation of BIF I, with a much stronger, narrowed scope focusing on Solar Products, Soya, and Pigeon Peas. Imani Development is the consortium partner responsible for Malawi, and as Country Managers has identified, and now delivers, the BIF strategy there. Imani works directly with commercial companies: agro-processors; information and communications technology firms; agricultural estates; utility companies; farmer associations; and community groups and development organisations engaging with the poor. Many of the business models identified increase smallholder farmer or other SME benefits by integrating them in the ‘last mile’ of supply chains of larger businesses, thus directly encouraging private sector development and pro-poor growth. A key principle of such projects is that they can demonstrate wealth creation through an inclusive, commercially viable approach.

Department for International Development & United Nations Development Programme – Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (2014 – 2018)
The Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF) is a US$ 8 million competitive, transparent mechanisms that provides grant finance for innovative projects proposed by the private sector active in Malawi’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Supported by the United Nations Development Programme and UK Aid, the MICF is designed to be a quick, responsive mechanism that is not overly bureaucratic and understands the needs of the private sector. MICF aims to support the private sector to generate and test new ideas, and help prove the viability of new business models, enhancing the ability of these innovative projects and concepts to be replicated or scaled up on a purely commercial basis. Imani Development, in partnership with Nathan Associates, manages MICF.

Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre – Scottish Aquaculture 2030 Innovation Roadmap and Needs Study (2016)
Commissioned by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), with support from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Imani Development has delivered a roadmap for innovation-led growth in the Scottish Aquaculture Sector, entitled “Scottish Aquaculture: A view to 2030”. The publication follows a six-month scoping study involving desk research, two datasets from the SAIC biennial event in 2015 and Aquaculture UK 2016, and targeted interviews with industry leaders and regulators. This information was collectively used to inform and structure a Market Systems Approach (MSA) to describe the industry and rank priorities to 2030. The report sets out and ranks the sector’s innovation requirements based on an evaluation of their need, urgency, and holistic impact, and recommends a set of intervention channels and activities for action through to 2030. Download the report here: Scottish Aquaculture – A View Towards 2030

United States Agency for International Development – Malawi Livestock Resilience Program (2014)
Imani undertook a baseline evaluation on behalf of Land O’ Lakes International Development. The Livestock for Resilience Program (L4R) project aimed to build the resilience of disaster-prone communities in the Dowa and Ntchisi districts in central Malawi to withstand climactic and economic shocks. The L4R project aims to promote the expansion and maintenance of small livestock assets among crop farmers to diversify their livelihoods to adapt to the vulnerabilities they face. As part of the baseline evaluation, Imani conducted structured household questionnaires across 390 households, as well as a gender analysis on gender considerations for the project via focus group discussions.

World Bank – Support for Women’s Agro-Enterprises in Zambia and Kenya using ICT as a Tool (2012 – 2014)

The purpose of this project was to understand and pilot test how and whether provision of ICT-tools can facilitate the transformation of women farmers and women entrepreneurs from one level of the value chain to another, with a focus on Zambia and Kenya. This pilot project formed part of the Bank of Netherlands Partnership Program (BNPP) Grant support, which aimed to develop effective and evidence-based strategies and modalities for mainstreaming women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship in large-scale agricultural projects, using ICT as a tool. The consultants pilot tested a set of ICT-based interventions to strengthen participation of women in agricultural growth initiatives, focusing on women’s effective engagement in agro-enterprises (on- and off-farm) in Zambia and Kenya.

Specific functions included: A review of relevant IDSP/KAPAP Project related documentation including the implementation manual and supporting documents (e.g., value chain analyses) and identify the existing ICT in agriculture interventions and other relevant stakeholders in the countries. Designing and assisting in implementation of interventions that can effectively support targeted beneficiaries to develop and promote women farmers/entrepreneurs to develop rural enterprises by improved access to ICT. Analyzing the results of the pilot testing and provide evidence-based results of the impact of the intervention. Preparing materials and carrying out an experience sharing workshop in both countries with stakeholders, including selected beneficiaries to promote successful enterprise development.