Identifying and Assessing Market Opportunities for Small-Scale Rural Producers

This manual is a tool for promoting a greater business and market orientation within the rural sector of small-scale producers. Not only will does it try to promote the diversification and processing of agricultural production, but it also to help detect market opportunities for traditional products of rural economies, in fresh or processed form. It can also be used to promote a business approach by including formal agronomic, agro-industrial, livestock, and commercial characterization plus economic evaluations of potential market options. In addition, the manual proposes a participatory procedure that involves the small-scale rural producer from the beginning in the research process.

The general objective is for the reader or trainee to be able to facilitate or participate in the process of identifying and evaluating market opportunities for small-scale rural producers in a given territory. These market options will (a) exhibit market demand, (b) be feasible in the territory under consideration, and (c) be accepted by the community of small-scale rural producers.

More specifically, after completing this manual the reader or trainee should be able to:

  • Understand basic background concepts related to market opportunity identification for small-scale rural producers in a given territory;
  • Plan and execute a participatory rapid market survey for a given territory;
  • Establish selection criteria for market options targeted to small-scale rural producers;
  • Characterize and screen market options for a given territory;
  • Plan and execute an evaluation process of market options by the rural community.

This manual is targeted to rural development practitioners (professionals and technicians) in the public and private sectors, who are dedicated to research, development or training. In this context, the manual can be used either as a field guide or as training material. The manual contains exercises, practices and a glossary to facilitate training processes. Additionally, this manual is directed to high school, college and university professors teaching subjects related to agricultural sciences, rural development, agro-industry, and participatory research.

This manual is designed ideally for use in its entirety, because it describes a logical process. The first section provides important concepts that can enrich the subsequent research and analytical process. The second section, the Rapid Market Survey, generates the first product portfolio, while the third section provides a two-stage screening procedure to eliminate unfeasible or inconvenient market options. The execution of the complete proposed methodology will result in abundant information for solid decision-making that will result in less business risk.

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