Large scale agribusiness initiative to benefit 565,000 smallholders in Uganda, Malawi, and Nepal

people working in rice field

CASA will demonstrate sustainable and scale-able business models that promote smallholder aggregation and agri-investment.

The Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme seeks to catalyse change by increasing investment in agribusinesses that trade with smallholders, while increasing smallholder engagement and benefits from such investments.

April 16, 2019

The main form of economic activity in much of Africa and South Asia is agriculture, largely done by smallholder farmers. Smallholders are for a large part excluded from the market, with less than 10% involved in organised, formal supply chains, and amongst women farmers even fewer.

To address this, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) recently launched a new five-year €34.8M programme to stimulate investment in emerging agribusinesses working with smallholder farmers. By connecting the latter with commercial markets, the Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme will improve the livelihoods of 565,000 subsistence farmers and their families in Uganda, Malawi, and Nepal.

NIRAS is leading an important part of CASA and in partnership with CABI and Swisscontact, we aim to see at least €4.6M of additional investment mobilised into six agricultural market systems and the growth of small and medium-sized agribusinesses resulting in at least 3,000 jobs in the three countries.

Supporting commercial agriculture where it is needed most

Women farmers make up at least half of those to benefit from the initiative, at least 30% of whom currently live on less than $2 a day. The expectation is that CASA participants will see their annual incomes increase by close to €90, and there will be positive changes in nutrition and climate resilience, with women being empowered at business and household level.

The programme is a unique opportunity to achieve real systemic change through researching concrete practices of value chain development and showing investors what a great business case smallholder farming systems can be.

Kristina Mastroianni, NIRAS’s Technical Director for Agriculture and also CASA’s Programme Director

CASA will target support for sesame and bean production in Uganda, poultry and aquaculture in Malawi, and dairy and vegetable farming in Nepal. Ultimately, the programme aims to create economic opportunities for farmers by facilitating their involvement in agribusiness supply chains while enhancing the sustainability and climate resilience of farming systems and supporting the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems.

Farmer Alongside His Beans

Country-level interventions paired with investor-targeted research and communication

As consortium lead, NIRAS will manage an important part of the CASA programme, designing targeted interventions to expand smallholders’ markets, increase investment to agribusinesses, and create conducive regulatory environments. Significant learning will be gathered from the three country programmes, and CASA’s learning component will produce evidence-based reports that can be communicated directly to investors to stimulate their interest in increasing investments to smallholder agriculture.

CABI will conduct research into evidence gaps on commercial agriculture as well as a review of DFID agriculture programmes to determine where improvements could be made. Finally, together with our consortium partners, we will use the knowledge gained, as well as a review of CASA itself, to communicate with donors, investors, and the general public. As Dr Dennis Rangi, CABI’s Director General of Development explains, “By working together to foster the importance of agriculture as a business, we can make a difference in empowering smallholder farmers, both male and female, to increase their yields and improve their livelihoods and ultimately strengthen local, national and global food chains and food security for all.”

For any media requests, please contact Wayne Coles, Communications Manager, CABI, email: Tel: +44 (0) 1491 829395.


Smallholder farmers to benefit through improved livelihoods

50 %

The minimum amount of female participants in CASA

30 %

CASA beneficiaries who currently live under $2 per day

Kristina Mastroianni

Kristina Mastroianni

Agriculture Sector Lead

Stockholm, Sweden

+46 8 545 533 32