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SMART Skills for Smallholder Farmers

MEAS supported the development of the Smart Skills Suite in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services, CRS. The final versions (in English) are available online at the links provided below. The manuals will soon also be available in French and Spanish.

What is the purpose of the guides?

Our goal is to help vulnerable farmers use better methods of production and marketing to improve their livelihoods. The series presents an integrated and sequential approach to strengthening the capacity of farmers—both men and women—to link with markets and manage their resources. The guides aim to help farmers better manage their finances, achieve more sustainable production, improve their market performance, and stay innovative and competitive.

The skill sets are

  1. organizing democratically for collective decision-making;
  2. managing savings and lending to protect key assets, smooth consumption and encourage investment;
  3. selecting, establishing and growing an enterprise;
  4. managing natural resources for sustainable agricultural production; and
  5. managing knowledge to innovate and maintain competitiveness in a changing market.

How were the guides developed?

The idea for the series came from a review of farmer groups in three countries on three continents. The review explored what made some farmer groups more successful in engaging with markets than others. It also asked farmers which skills they needed support to develop. The guides were created through the support of 130 practitioners from 19 organizations and 12 countries. The manuals have been prepared for use by development facilitators, field extension agents and community leaders working with poor rural communities. USAID and MEAS provided financial support for the editing and graphic design of the guides and for the development of e-learning courses.