Rural Business Development Services

You are here: Home » KIT Information & Library Services » ILS Information products » RURAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SERVICES

KIT Dossier Rural Business Development Services

Last update: Tuesday 27 March 2012

Supporting smallholders to reach the market

There is a growing consensus that growth, profitability and increased competitiveness of small scale producers is the only way out of rural poverty and food insecurity. Along these lines, agricultural producers  are increasingly asked to become more market-oriented and more often approached as entrepreneurs in their own right. A number of recent development efforts focus on the ability and capacities of smallholders to operate in compliance with market principles. In order to stay in business it’s necessary for individual chain actors but also for entire value chains or commodity sectors to adapt to the continuously changing (market-) environment.

This has caused a reflection on what services and capacities  those smallholders need when they want to become more market-oriented, and how to best respond to such needs. At the same time, the approach towards agricultural extension went through considerable change. Extension initially followed a “transfer of technology” mentality, based merely on one-size fits all technologies aimed at increased production and productivity, provided by a monopolistic public sector with little attention to the organizational and institutional aspects when it came to the implementation and use of such technologies. More recently, extension has started to be seen as supplier of tailor-made advice with an institutional and market oriented scope and pluralistic delivery channels.

This paradigm shift was captured in the emergence of Rural Business Development Services (or RBDS): services aimed at supporting producers in reaching the market.  RBDS includes an array of services such as training and advisory services, market information services, technology, legal advice and linking producers to other stakeholders. It is referred to, elsewhere, also as Market Oriented Agricultural Advisory Services (MOAAS) or pluralistic extension services.

A key element of RBDS/MOAAS is that it demands a significant change in how advisory services are now organized, and a very different set of capacities from those providing such services. The emphasis is no longer solely on the technical knowledge related to production, but also on understanding how markets function and, most importantly, on being able to link stakeholders and facilitate their interaction.

Inquiries on KIT’s expertise and activities in this field can be directed to Willem Heemskerk or Mariana Wongtschowski.

For more resources on this topic, please refer to the KIT Portal Rural Innovation Systems or the KIT Portal Value Chains for Development.

                                Short URL for this page :

What are dossiers?

Dossiers are thematic guides to selected documents, links, and work of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT). They cover sub-themes within the broader scope of a KIT information portal.

Search KIT portal

Rural Innovation Systems


For questions or suggestions about this dossier, please contact the editor, Sjon van 't Hof, at