Agri-Food Industry Organizations as a vehicle for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation


AFIOs are critical market ecosystem actors that perform a wide range of functions to support their members and enhance the business environment. AFIOs are uniquely positioned to capitalize on market opportunities and effectively promote a country-led Inclusive Agricultural Transformation (IAT).

Professional and strategy oriented AFIOs contribute to creating a strong ecosystem that enables effective and competitive markets. In this ecosystem, different archetypes of AFIOs collaborate and complement each other. When orchestrated, these AFIOs can drive effective policies, scale up innovation and service provision, and support their members (smallholders, SMEs and POs) by effectively facilitating market exchange.  

Background and methodology

The aim of the study was to identify the organizations that could become reliable partners in the development of markets, driving the Inclusive Agricultural Transformation agenda.32 AFIOs in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia were assessed to evaluate their organizational maturity and strategic outlook.

Data used has been collected and analyzed with SCOPEinsight methodology and complemented with the inclusion of an additional module on AFIOs’ strategic contributions. The analysis focused on the professionalism and effectiveness of AFIOs—key determinants of their success as change agents and drivers of IAT.

Key findings

The AFIOs considered in the study  perform relatively well given the environment they operate in, the level of resources they have and their context. At least half of the AFIOs in the cohort are maturing or mature organizations (with a score above 3 out of 5). Their level of professionalism, as well as   their commitment and ambitions indicate that they have potential to be reliable partners:

  • AFIOs are effective policy advocators in a wide range of policy topics related to their sub-sector, with opportunities to expand their IAT role. There is a chance to support AFIOs to effectively advocate for IAT policies (e.g., gender, nutrition, inclusion, infrastructure, etc.).
  • Most AFIOs focus on market facilitation functions (e.g., grading, market intelligence and linkages, support service delivery) and there is a chance to support AFIOs in expanding their market roles by expanding market access, brand building, and fostering business relations.
  • In service provision, the majority of the AFIOs focused on capacity building and, to a lesser extent, in production related services and there is a chance to help AFIOs explore and expand an effective service offering for their members. To maximize their potential as change agents, AFIOs must strengthen their organizational capacity.

The analysis proved that more mature and professional AFIOs with strong internal management structures engage more effectively in policy, markets and service provision. Regardless of their limitations, AFIOs are change agents that work with governments to develop the agri-food sector. Furthermore, AFIOs can focus their efforts on complementing other organizations and structures in the environment where they operate.


AFIO professionalism can be driven towards (1) the type and variety of membership they serve and (2) the scale of their operations. Although all AFIOs operate within the same scope of action, the archetypes have shown that different AFIOs drive different perspectives and interests at different levels. Orchestration is required to ensure their collaboration and collective impact towards IAT.  

There are untapped opportunities for AFIOs to channel investment and promote innovation. Institutional and regulatory maturity of the environment were determinant factors in the level of AFIO professionalization. Opportunities exist for AFIOs to orchestrate and facilitate interactions among key actors, while catalyzing digital innovation. Furthermore, localization, size, and connectivity need to be taken into consideration to empower AFIOs as change agents.

To build and enable an effective market ecosystem, AFIOs must address key challenges identified in their internal capacity, responsiveness, and vision. Specific needs have been identified for the different landscapes and typologies, and these result in recommendations for tailored learning programs to support the development of professional and strategy-oriented organizations. It is expected that this network of AFIOs can learn together, and with support they can effectively capitalize on market opportunities and proactively champion Inclusive Agricultural Transformation.

You can download the full report here.