Request for Proposal (RFP) - Development of the Inclusive Markets and Trade Workstream Theory at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

Posted by Future on Wed 16th Feb, 2022 -

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) invites interested and qualified consultancy firm(s) to tender RFP documents for the following works:

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an organisation that seeks to transform African agriculture from a subsistence model to strong businesses that improve the livelihoods of the continent’s farming households.

AGRA is an alliance led by Africans with roots in farming communities across the continent. We understand that African farmers need uniquely African solutions designed to meet their specific environmental and agricultural needs so they can sustainably boost production and gain access to rapidly growing agriculture markets.

Applications are invited for:

Title: Request for Proposal (RFP) - Development of the Inclusive Markets and Trade Workstream Theory of Change and Theory of Action

Background and Context
A successful Inclusive Agriculture Transformation (IAT) agenda is premised on a few preconditions, including large-scale dissemination and adoption of land and labor productivity-enhancing technologies and inputs, access to the financial capital, improved input and output markets and incentives that allow for the full realization of the value of increased production; and a well-resourced and competitive private sector that can manage and allocate skill and capital to drive the long-term and sustainable agribusiness sector growth. Since its inception in 2006, AGRA has promoted IAT agenda by strengthening agricultural systems with relative success and lessons.

AGRA’s efforts to strengthening agricultural output markets used various approaches that enabled the organization to learn and adapt. During its initial phase, PIATA 1.0, AGRA championed a few approaches aimed at increasing productivity and production levels through enhanced access to productivity enhancing inputs such as seeds and fertilizers. With the increased productivity, access to output markets became critical as the surplus production was of low quality and was not aggregated to meet market requirements. AGRA supported farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their produce through improved post-harvest management and aggregation to meet buyers’ requirements. However, due to breakdowns along supply chains occasioned by information asymmetry, high levels of informality, lack of infrastructure and price discovery mechanisms, AGRA embarked on a value chain coordination and integration approach through identification of key actors i.e. input providers, financiers and off-takers to match supply and demand in a more structured and coordinated fashion. The following two models were adopted:

For quasi-cash crops such as rice and soybeans, AGRA supported processors to build inclusive supply chains by providing market shaping technical assistance and de-risking their investments in smallholder farming systems through matching grants. For food crops (loose value chains), AGRA worked with agribusinesses operating in different but complementing markets (input, output, finance, support goods and services) to integrate agricultural systems through consortia for improved value chain coordination and governance.

More recently, through its regional food trade program, AGRA initiated a demand-pull supply chain development approach enabling smallholder farmers and SMEs to access regional markets. This approach further highlighted unique challenges around policy inconsistencies and regulatory blockages between countries and validated the importance of addressing domestic market gaps to upgrade skills of farmers and SMEs alike and leverage capital for regional market penetration.
The past year also saw AGRA acquire the VALUE4HER initiative, a gender leaning market shaping platform aimed at increasing women’s market/trade inclusion and integration while transforming the agri-business environment towards equity.

On the supply side, AGRA has learned that increasing the capacity of farmers to supply high quality produce to the market without a critical mass of off-takers who pay for quality is not sustainable. Farmers can only sustain their effort and investments in post-harvest management handling if high-quality produce attract better profit margins. On the demand side, AGRA has learned that traders and processors who have assured and growing end markets for their products tend to provide support to farmers, especially input finance. However, to minimize incidences of side selling, these off-takers need an improved enabling policy and regulatory environment, improved access to working capital and trade finance as well as nimble logistic arrangements that enable them to be in the markets (farm gate or factory gate) whenever farmers are ready to sell their harvest. On pricing, AGRA has learnt that weak price discovery mechanisms prevent farmers and off-takers from making informed decisions on what to grow, quantities to produce, and when to supply the markets.
In fact, low farm-gate prices discourage farmers from sustaining their investments in yield-enhancing technologies. Furthermore, AGRA has learned that persistent market data gaps and information asymmetry has contributed to ad hoc policy and business decisions by governments and private players respectively creating a highly unpredictable policy and market environment suppressing investments.

Going forward, AGRA intends to take a paradigm shift in the way it intervenes in the market system in order to realise the desired inclusive agriculture transformation impact. AGRA will no longer focus on retail grant making towards individual agri-food companies or SMEs but rather aim to catalyse and impact an ecosystem under which these SMEs operate. Similarly, direct farmer level interventions by AGRA will be discouraged in favour of enabling and leveraging the inclusive and effective reach of market actors to achieve scale. AGRA will also seek to boost its engagement with market and trade institutions and platforms (meso level), local, national, and regional policy officials and private sector in order to promote and scale private sector, climate-friendly and nutrition and gender sensitive policies and regulations (macro level). Women and youth empowerment to enable them fully participate and benefit from upgraded agricultural value chains and market systems will also be prioritized.

There is need for investing in interventions that help resolve market failures, install, and scale inclusive business models and address policy and regulatory impediments to propel innovation, skills building and injection of capital into the agriculture value chains generating jobs, incomes, and healthy diets. AGRA therefore anticipates implementing effective interventions around the following broad categories:

Functioning meso-level institutions and platforms that enable the assessment of farmers’ and SMEs’ needs and aggregated delivery of services. These institutions include Agri-food industry associations or commodity associations, commodity exchanges and warehouse receipt systems, and coalitions for improved food and Agricultural markets. Larger markets and trade supported by credible data and price discovery mechanisms provide sustainable incentives for the adoption of yield and quality-enhancing technologies. Innovative financial products coupled with innovative delivery systems that can effectively reduce risks and costs of lending to the Agricultural markets. Integration of small holder farmers, women and youth, within markets and trade systems, featuring top notch approaches that balance inclusion and economic viability Policies and regulations that strengthen the operations of structured markets and key market platforms such as warehouse receipt systems (WRS) and commodity exchanges (COMEX); however, some trade remedial policy dispensations such as trade bans and inconsistent application of quality standards among other non-tariff barriers negatively affect the entire Agri-food industry and prevent it from becoming competitive.

It is against this background that AGRA would like to engage services of a qualified consultancy firm to assist in identifying the critical pillars of this work, the impact pathways and indicators, the successful models or approaches and key stakeholders to engage in the delivery of an inclusive agriculture transformation agenda via inclusive markets and trade.

Objective of the Assignment
The objective of this assignment is to review and validate the draft Theory of Change and Theory of Action prepared by AGRA to establish interventions for its inclusive markets and trade workstream under its new strategy for the 2023-2030 period. This assignment will therefore seek to synthesise existing knowledge, findings, and reports with the aim of identifying the key value chains, pillars of the markets and trade workstream, intervention (or impact) pathways, indicators, and targets, successful or effective models and/or practices as well as stakeholders that will need to be engaged and supported to deliver the desired impact.

Key Principles of the Assignment:
  • Catalytic - Study to identify the catalytic role of AGRA along all the sub-systems
  • Efficiency - Aim to identify the paths-of-least-resistance to the change we seek, successful models (cost, partnerships, time)
  • Partnerships - Identify players who have developed competencies in the various models we select and seek to support those entities. AGRA has initiated parallel investments and studies which should enrich the implementation of this assignment.
  • Performance metrics - Seek to identify comparable KPIs along the impact pathways for which we will measure progress
  • Assumptions - Clearly articulate the necessary assumptions for each pillar/pathway and provide an assessment of risk
  • Inclusivity and sustainability - Aim to identify models that leverage digital tools to reach more people, that benefits women and youth and that are climate friendly
  • Collaboration/Engagement – Ensure regular engagements with AGRA and BMGF expert teams in every process of the assignment. Draw from AGRAs existing knowledge resource including work done by ISF advisors on SME archetypes, value chain prioritization by CARDNO, BFAP and IFPRI among others.
Scope of Work
The scope of the consultancy will involve stakeholder consultations and analytical approaches aimed at achieving the following tasks which should all be based and make use of AGRA’s existing knowledge base (research documents, knowledge papers, evaluations), stakeholder maps, implemented models and in house expertise:
  • Sharpening the vision of this workstream within the broader AGRA strategy and in consultation with AGRA, BMGF and other relevant stakeholders. Gathering, analysis and synthesis of existing literature on key pillars of inclusive markets and trade using a market systems approach with the aim of (in)validating AGRAs’ choices
  • Using proven analytical approaches and metrics identify successful impact pathways under each of the identified pillars of the inclusive markets and trade workstream of AGRA
  • Through regular engagement with key stakeholders (including Technoserve who are supporting AGRA in this area) and review of identified successful market systems models and approaches within the areas of markets, policy/regulations, financing, digitization, resilience, and gender mainstreaming, recommend key business cases to be tested during the implementation phase.
  • Assess and recommend engagement models with key market institutions such as AfCFTA, RECS, chambers of commerce and private sector federations and other market/trade facilitation programmes
  • Undertake a stakeholder mapping and analysis to identify who the key partners and beneficiaries of this workstream will be, where their interests and influence lie and how to work with them, analyse their capacity gaps to identify areas of support and their competencies and models to map where to leverage and invest.
  • The stakeholder mapping should also involve an assessment of major SME archetypes including characteristics, challenges, opportunities and key areas of support or collaboration.
  • Carry out a synthesis of existing studies (including work undertaken by BFAP, FAO, FCDO and IFPRI) and reports to undertake a value chain prioritization process (maximum of 10 value chains) based on key principles of the workstream including competitiveness, food security, resilience, employment, on farm and off-farm incomes, gender and nutrition sensitivity as well as smallholder farmer participation.
  • Identify and validate key market sheds/trade corridors for the key value chains identified in (v) above. This task shall involve a assessment of informal trade, mapping of key blockages and issues along the identified corridors along with key stakeholders and recommendations on how to open trade and markets for the select value chains
  • Develop a pipeline of key interventions and investments, areas of leverage and partnership and finally where AGRA through this workstream will lead.
  • Develop a well-researched TOC (with key assumptions and preconditions) and TOA (with clear deliverables and targets, results framework and metrics for measurement).
  • The geographical scope of this assignment shall include all AGRA focus countries, key agriculture trade corridors and complementary market sheds in sub-Saharan Africa.
The consultancy will be expected to deliver, the following outputs:
  • Inception report outlining the methods, key stakeholders to be consulted and timelines and way in which relevant AGRA staff will be part and parcel of this work to ensure relevance, feasibility, and ownership.
  • Synthesis report highlighting an analysis of key smallholder agriculture value chains (their impact on farmers’ revenue, nutrition, equity, and competitiveness), market institutions and platforms, market sheds and trade corridors, key markets/trade pillars, impact pathways, sample successful inclusive business models and major recommendations. A Theory of Change will need to be developed as one of the key milestones here
  • Stakeholder analysis report highlighting a mapping of key stakeholders along the key value chains, market shed/trade corridors, analysis of SME archetypes and their characteristics, challenges and opportunities and areas of engagement
  • An in-depth analysis [report] of successful and gender sensitive business models along all the systems i.e. markets, trade, financing, digital etc. this report shall include key metrics of success, estimates of investments and plan for support and scaling
  • A policy and regulatory assessment report – based on the selected key value chains, market sheds/trade corridors and identification or synthesis of key bottlenecks, political economy interests and effective policy predictability tools and how to address and scale
  • Develop a pipeline of key interventions and investments, areas of leverage and partnership and finally where AGRA through this workstream will lead. This will constitute the Theory of Action for the workstream.
Application Closing Date
24th February, 2022.

Submission of Documents

The proposals SHALL be submitted to: by the deadline indicated in the synopsis. Please include the subject line “RFP/025/MARKETS/2022” of the email.

  • The Proposals shall be prepared in English Language.
  • The technical proposal shall not exceed 20 pages.
  • The proposal and ALL Attachments submitted via email SHALL NOT exceed 10MB.
  • VALIDITY of the proposal shall be for a period of 90 days from the date of bid closure.
  • Financial proposal shall be sent as a separate attachment and MUST be password protected. The password shall be requested from firms that meet the minimum technical score of 75%).
Click Here (Ms Word) for a detailed description of the RFP.