Improving Agricultural Value Chains

Partner Spotlight – Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth – First-Year Project

This spring, a team of five dedicated students from the Tuck School of Business committed to working with the iF Foundation through Tuck’s First-Year Project course The First-Year Project course (FYP) offers Tuck students the opportunity to apply classroom learning to real world issues and complex business challenges. The Team of five students, chosen for their expertise and diversity of experience, focused on identifying market opportunities for the increased agricultural production of iF’s farmers.

The market for crop production in Haiti is local and dominated by a network of middlemen who control pricing, as well as small women merchants who cannot absorb increased supply. In addition, Haiti does not have institutions that function as a commodity exchange either to set market prices or broker transactions. Production, distribution and sales channels are fragmented causing farmers to be resistant to produce more because of lack of demand and storage. With this knowledge, The Tuck Team set out to learn what market opportunities are available for iF to stimulate demand for its increased agricultural production both domestically and internationally, while working toward its goal of achieving financial sustainability.

The Tuck Team spent five days in Haiti interviewing farmers, potential buyers and partners to gather the information they would need to make a thoughtful recommendation to iF on how to improve the economic and food security of small-scale farmers in Haiti, addressing this critical broken link in the value chain. iF Haiti supports value chains from the planting stage by providing no interest farming input loans to ensure farmers have the resources they need for planting. Throughout the growing season farmers continue to receive training and technical support from trained agronomists. These services are targeted at increasing yields among farmers to improve their food security and economic situation. While these services have been effective at increasing yields, iF realizes an immediate need to build systems and structures to sustain our key interventions.

The student’s primary recommendation, accompanied by a comprehensive plan of action is to position iF as a market intermediary linking buyers and sellers. Based on the fact that iF already has strong relationships with the farmers built on trust and transparency, this next step would provide the greatest long-term value. This would enable iF to create stable market relations and stimulate demand for farmer input while providing farmers with increased income, access to financing, education and training, and network opportunities.

The iF Foundation extends our sincere appreciation to our amazing Tuck Team and to the staff and faculty supporting their efforts. We look forward to building upon the Team’s recommendations and to a continued partnership with Tuck.