Market Actors

Farmers and their markets are the important actors involved in the MLA since it is these two actors that are directly engaged in economic activities. Donors have recognised the potential of business to enhance rural economic development and have been increasingly providing funds to support and develop these partnerships.

Private sector

MLA business members are companies that typically want to develop new opportunities, or expand existing business models, with smallholder farmers. This approach is more than philanthropy or charity – it is strictly a business tactic that aims to accrue benefits to both the company and smallholder partners.


The Association does not have individual farmer members. Its members are the development organisations that support smallholders. The information shared by the MLA assists these organisations in better developing market facilitation strategies that can improve smallholder livelihoods. These strategies include input and output markets:

  • Input markets: Over the years MLA has heralded market based input access strategies such as agrodealer networks and contract farming.
  • Output markets: Farmers have traditionally had difficulties in accessing profitable markets for their produce and output marketing is an important focus of the group.

Image by Mark Selby