Publications

Emerging advisory service agri-enterprises : a dual perspective on technical and business performance

Kilelu, Catherine W.; Lee, Jan van der; Koge, Jessica; Klerkx, Laurens

Summary

Purpose: This article addresses the gap in understanding the performance of emerging private agricultural advisory service (AAS) models in developing country contexts, in relation to their dual objectives of supporting farmer-clients and becoming profitable agribusinesses themselves. Methodology: Multiple case study of Service Providers Enterprises (SPEs), an emerging youth-led agribusiness model offering silage making and other services in the Kenyan dairy sector. Using mixed methods, data were collected through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, from eight sampled SPEs, 72 farmers, and key informants across four counties. Findings: The results show SPEs’ contribution to some changes in farmers’ practices, including improvement in milk production, but with some limitations to optimal technical performance. SPEs’ mixed business performance is linked to limited market demand, seasonality, and limited fit of some services offered, highlighting gaps in entrepreneurial and market orientation of such agribusinesses, compounded by a challenging operating environment. Practical implications: This evidence implies enhancing the contribution of such service agri-enterprises–in transforming agri-food systems and offering employment opportunities especially for youth–requires targeted and sustained policy and program support in business incubation, market development, and strengthening the value proposition to farmer-clients. Theoretical implications: The dual perspective on performance expands theoretical perspectives for assessing AAS, especially in relation to commercialization. The emphasis is on the mutuality of substantive demand and economic viability of these services, which is reliant on certain market maturity. Originality: This article is a novel attempt to assess private AAS models from both a technical perspective and regarding their viability as agri-enterprises.