Farmer-first supply chain connects seedlings to the supermarket shelf

Produce is packaged for commercial sale at Acceso’s collection facility. Photo by: Teresa Welsh / Devex

CHALATENANGO, El Salvador — Hugo Balthazar Hernández began farming when he was 18 years old.

He and his brother learned the trade from their father, and like many smallholders in El Salvador, they grew just a few crops on their small plots. Unpredictable pricing and flaky buyers at the local markets could see entire harvests go to waste.

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“In the past, the informal market didn’t allow us to be sustainable,” Hernández said.

Hernández is now 24 and cultivating 15 different crops, the speed of business growth has been possible through his partnership with Acceso, an agribusiness that spun out of a Clinton Foundation initiative and is now funded by Canadian philanthropist Frank Giustra. It provides support to farmers from seedlings to the supermarket shelf.

“We come at the producer with first and foremost market access,” said Rob Johnson, CEO at Acceso. “We basically say ... ‘we have to orient your production around what the market wants.’ So the quality, the size, all of those kinds of things. We say, ‘this is the consistency, the frequency of production [needed].’”

Acceso’s services span the entire supply chain, rather than focusing solely on microcredit or technical assistance, so its agents are able to provide farmers a range of offerings — including inputs, credit, market linkages, and buying power.

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About the author

  • Teresa Welsh

    Teresa Welsh is a Senior Reporter at Devex. She has reported from more than 10 countries and is currently based in Washington, D.C. Her coverage focuses on Latin America; U.S. foreign assistance policy; fragile states; food systems and nutrition; and refugees and migration. Prior to joining Devex, Teresa worked at McClatchy's Washington Bureau and covered foreign affairs for U.S. News and World Report. She was a reporter in Colombia, where she previously lived teaching English. Teresa earned bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin.

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