Upscaling climate-smart agriculture via micro finance in Tanzania | Global Challenges Programme project

Photo: Nkumi Mtimgwa (CIFOR)

Project description

This project will provide practical and conceptual insight in the appropriate combinations of business training (through farmer field and business schools – FFBS) and financial services (through village savings and loans associations – VSLA) that support community-based adaptation (CBA) action plans for dovetailing empowerment and upscaling/graduation towards climate change mitigation with social and gender inclusiveness.

Combining action research and lab-in-the-field experiments we develop and test rigorous models and tools for interactive learning and validation towards integrated impact assessment that generate better insights into operational pathways towards CSA scaling while considering simultaneous changes in (intra)household behavior, production systems, and value chain interactions. 

This multi-level approach towards scaling partnerships enables public and private agents to engage into mutually beneficial sustainable, profitable, equitable and resilient (SuPER) strategies and arrangements that support female farmers’ engagement into nitrogen recycling practices, nutrition-sensitive value chains, improved dietary diversity and effective risk sharing and portfolio management.


  • Tracing studies to identify the scale and pace of the adoption of CSA practices and adaptation plans, to assess the degree of VSLA affiliation, and to identify relevant on-farm and off-farm indicators, including some qualitative research (also using ranking and scaling) to understand perceptions, experiences, and barriers faced in different types of FFBS and by different categories of farm-households
  • Mapping of climate risk profiles for the case region and estimating socio-environmental costbenefits of the outputs and outcomes of actions taken by the FFBS and individual farmers
  • Impact studies (based on survey data from pipeline design) including farmers that received randomly different types of support, to determine attribution of FFBS and VSLAs
  • Learning workshops with business stakeholders and farmer’s associations to explore the understanding of, and potential interest in, different propositions for developing testable financial approaches for supporting the upscaling of FFBS + CSA/SuPER + VSLA’s (lab-in-the-field)
  • Lab-in-the Field experiments amongst different types of Kukua na Kujifunza (Growing = Learning) (KNK) stakeholders to identify the implications of VSLA/FFBS support for changes in risk attitudes, market engagement (contracts) and (intra/extra household) bargaining power
  • Bargaining games to assess changes in gender relations at farming systems, household decisionmaking, community-level organization, value chain contracts and knowledge/innovation networks and the implications for changes in nutrition status and CSA resilience

Expected outcomes

  • CSA Adoption Pathways: the research community is better able to benchmark the effectiveness of the VSLA + FFBS + CBA pathways, as form of putting a combination of social and financial capital to the use of a public goal (climate adaptation at scale).
  • Upscaling field effectiveness: development partners (like CARE) are enabled to fine-tune policies and practices in FFBS + VSLA + CBA, in order to maximize its field effectiveness for CSA upscaling. This will optimize its (gendered) effects on climate adaptation and resilience, as well as on productivity and nutrition, at household and village level.
  • CSA-oriented public policies and business investments: if the effectiveness of the FFBS+VSLA+  CSA model for achieving CSA at scale is evidenced, policy makers (local & national governments) and development agents are able to integrate this approach properly into their policy decisions, and will enable private stakeholders to make appropriate business and investment decisions regarding their connections to this integrated CSA approach. 

Gender and youth

KNK’s Gender Pathways approach focuses on improving poor smallholder women farmer’s productivity and profitability by empowering women to more fully engage in agriculture planning, production and exchange. These pathways place women’s empowerment at the heart of the upscaling strategy with the belief that by empowering women, agricultural productivity and profitability will increase and household resilience will be improved. We will analyse the process of women’s empowerment using the Agency, Structure and Relations approach (by applying gender disaggregated analysis of FFBS and VSLA’s) and assessing the development outcomes through the Women Empowerment in agriculture (WEIA) index.


  • Wageningen Economic Research (WUR)
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)
  • CARE International
  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

More information

For more information, please contact the project leaders:

Funding for this project is provided by: