Regoverning Markets

The Regoverning Markets project focused on the modernisation of agrifood markets in emerging economies, and implications for small-scale producers. The goal was to secure more equitable producer and trade benefits in response to those changes. It was a multi-partner collaborative research programme made up of a consortium of some 20 research organisations and funding agencies.

2004 - 2008
Sales to processor at wholesale market. Photo: Jikun Huang

Sales to processor at wholesale market (Photo: copyright Jikun Huang)

Rapid changes are taking place in agrifood markets in middle and low-income countries. The spread of modern retailers, wholesalers and food processing businesses is reshaping the way that food systems are governed. Small-scale agriculture, which supports the livelihoods of the majority of rural poor, is poorly prepared for these changes. Policy makers and development partners are generally remote from changes taking place within the market. They lack evidence upon which to support policy dialogue and intervention.

Research, and support to the policy process, can assist producers, businesses, and policy makers to anticipate and respond to this challenging environment, in ways that contribute to the resilience of rural economies.

The Regoverning Markets programme ran from 2005 to 2007 to provide that research and support. A large number of publications and policy processes resulted from the programme.

The overall aim of the programme was to provide strategic advice and guidance to the public sector, agrifood chain actors, civil society organizations including economic organisations of producers, and development agencies on approaches that can anticipate and manage the impacts of the dynamic changes in local and regional markets.

Building on exploratory studies in 17 countries, an intensive programme of collaborative research and policy support was undertaken to:

  • Understand the keys to inclusion in these restructured agri-food markets, in order to address implications and opportunities for small-scale producers and enterprises.
  • Understand what is better practice in connecting small-scale producers with dynamic markets.
  • Bring these findings into the wider policy arena and thereby inform, with facts and recommendations, practical action, public sector policy and private sector strategies.

The programme also aimed to build the capacity of national stakeholders in both the private and public sectors through their direct leadership and participation in research, innovation and policy processes.

The work programme

Three interactive work components were designed to meet the programme objectives. These are supported by a web-based portal, capacity building and information.

Empirical Research (Component 1) Research studies were undertaken in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Poland and Zambia. These countries represent explored food industry change at the national, sub-national and community levels. At the farm enterprise level, researchers studied practices and responses, with a focus on the horticulture and dairy sectors.

Innovation and Good Practice (Component 2) Thirty-two case study examples of market links between small-scale producers and dynamic markets focused on four drivers of innovation: public policy principles, private business models, collective action strategies by small-scale farmers, and intervention strategies and methods of development agencies.

Interactive Learning and Policy Processes (Component 3) Through support to existing and new national processes, the programme sought to strengthen learning and policy dialogue between the public sector, private and business sector and civil society.

Organizational structure

The programme is built around a global consortium of Southern and Northern institutions. The programme covered nine regions worldwide and the programme of each region was led by a regionally-based consortium member. An international Advisory Group was in place with members from the business sector, the OECD, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, research and academia.

Funding partners

This programme was supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), ICCO, Cordaid, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Other development partners and related programmes were also networked with this programme at international, regional and country levels.

Global consortium

Regional Coordinators

China: Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP), China. Jikun Huang

Central and Eastern Europe: Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary. Csaba Csáki

East Mediterranean and Middle East: Economic Research Centre on Mediterranean Countries, Turkey.- Ali Koc

North and West Africa: Association Interdisciplinaire pour le Développement et l'Environnement (TARGA), Aziz Sbai

South East Asia: University of the Philippines in Mindanao, The Philippines.Larry N. Digal

Latin America: RIMISP Latin American Centre for Rural Development, Chile. Julio Berdegué

South Asia: Centre for Management in Agriculture (CMA), Indian Institute of Management), India. Vijay Paul Sharma

East Africa: Tegemeo Institute of Egerton University, Kenya. James Nyoro

Southern Africa: University of Pretoria, South Africa. Andre Louw

Component leaders

Component 1 Empirical Research to Inform Policy

Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP), China. Jikun Huang

Michigan State University (MSU), USA. Tom Reardon


UMR MOISA, France. Céline Bignebat

Component 2 Building on Innovation and Guiding Practice

RIMISP Latin American Centre for Rural Development. Julio Berdegué

Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Netherlands. Lucian Peppelenbos


Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), France. Estelle Biénabe

Component 3 Learning and Policy Dialogue

Felicity Proctor Consulting Ltd, UK. Felicity Proctor, Director and Visiting Fellow IIED

University of the Philippines at Mindanao. Larry N. Digal


Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University, Netherlands. Jim Woodhill

Programme Team Leader

Bill Vorley, Principal Researcher, Sustainable Markets Group