April 13, 2017

Farmers harvest cauliflower in Himachal Pradesh, India. Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT
Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT

Population growth, changing appetites and rising food demand are fueling growth in the food and agriculture sector.  The sector is a lifeline— 65% of poor working adults relied on agriculture for their livelihoods in 2016.   It also represents an opportunity for job creation and shared prosperity.

Overall, food and agribusiness is a US$ 5 trillion industry that represents 10 percent of global consumer spending. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) employ the largest numbers of people globally: Evidence suggests that this is particularly true in the food industries of both developed and developing countries.

Much investment is needed all along the agribusiness value chain. In addition, enabling everyone from farmers to firms to take up opportunities for inclusive agribusiness development is critical. Connecting producers and entrepreneurs to domestic, regional and global markets—either directly or through links to other agribusinesses—can raise incomes, deliver food from surplus to deficit regions, and provide diversified sources of growth. The World Bank Group (WBG)—which comprises the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency-- works with countries to improve infrastructure and bolster support services so that they can maximize the full potential of agribusiness growth and improve market access for the full range of private sector actors, from farm to fork.


The World Bank Group leverages its multisectoral expertise to support client countries in diagnosing and implementing inclusive agribusiness solutions including:

  • Offering advisory and analytical support to countries so that they can better understand and improve the policy, legal and regulatory environment for smallholder farmers, entrepreneurs, and the safe and effective trade of agricultural products.  
  • Supporting countries’ efforts to improve product delivery while minimizing losses by building solid road networks and expanding access to reliable electricity, water supply and information and communication technology (ICT).
  • Investing in everything from storage facilities to trade facilitation capacity and infrastructure at the border in order to cut transaction costs for farmers, improve competitiveness of farmers and firms, improve agriculture products processing; and reduce post-harvest losses.
  • Helping smallholders improve their commercial viability—and their livelihoods—by helping them reach consumers beyond their local markets. Through support to producer organizations and market linkages programs, the WBG helps farmers produce for markets and enables their access to inputs, business development services, skills, and marketing infrastructure.
  • Supporting agribusiness entrepreneurs by linking them to markets and to domestic and foreign agribusinesses for revenue growth and sustainable job creation.
  • Helping countries, farmers, and firms meet food quality and safety standards so that they can sell in different markets, and contribute to domestic health and nutrition. The WBG provides access to food safety training through e-learning and other tools, helping align local food safety institutions and systems to market needs and assist in improving the grading and packaging of products.


In Brazil, rural competitiveness projects have helped more than 130,000 farmers reach domestic and international markets between 2010 and 2016

In Cambodia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam between 2008 and 2014, credit facilities helped farmers, exporters and processers secure the funding they needed to bring their products to market

In Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi and Senegal, government reforms introduced Warehouse Receipt Systems (WRS) which have helped producers, traders and processors improve their access to professional storage and credit since 2010. In Cote d’Ivoire, WBG support to the new WRS law has already seen the facilitation of close to US$ 16 million in loans for cashew processors. The WRS pilots in Kenya and Malawi have resulted in millions of dollars in loans against receipts, reaching almost fifty thousand farmers. 

In Colombia, the World Bank Group partnered with the Government and private sector buyers to open new markets for smallholder farmers. Creating new market opportunities has had durable impact. Many producer organizations remain active in their new market and—thanks to their higher-quality products and new-found market-savviness—many have even been able to find new buyers and new market opportunities.

In Assam, India in 2015, 1053 villages were connected to better rural roads, facilitating better market access for rural producers and increasing trade volume by 30%.

The WBG has supported public private partnerships working to safely store and protect food from spoilage, exposure and pests. In Punjab, India, grain storage facilities with a capacity of 50,000 metric tons were built starting in 2010; and in Mali, cold storage facilities were built at airports in 2015.

In the Kyrgyz republic, advisory services helped agribusiness companies increase sales and profits while connecting to new markets in 2013.

In 2016, the WBG supported food safety management system improvements that helped agro-food producers in Moldova  better comply with export market standards and improved food safety standards in Vietnam.

In Paraguay, the PRODERS project has helped small farmers access new markets and value chains since 2013.

Working with exporters, IFC has enabled value chain financing solutions like pre-harvest finance or equipment leasing to farmer organizations by using purchase contracts as collateral.

Additional Resources:

Gender and women investment;

Enabling the Business of Agriculture

A guide to warehouse receipt financing reform

Global Food Safety Partnership

Last Updated: Apr 24, 2017