The role of trust and networks in developing Nicaraguan farmers’ agribusiness capacities

Dirk Hauke Landmann, Jean-Joseph Cadilhon


The main focus of most programmes in developing countries carried out by NGOs is to develop small-scale farmers’ capacities. One approach hereby is to use multi-stakeholder innovation systems, such as the ‘Nicaraguan Learning Alliance’ (NLA). However, tools for the evaluation of multi-stakeholder innovation systems are rare. This paper reports on the implementation of a conceptual framework to carry out an impact evaluation of multi-stakeholder innovation systems using the NLA as the object of study. The assessment focused on the business relationship constructs of trust and capacity development. Survey interviews, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions collected data from agribusiness stakeholders linked with the NLA and from a control group of stakeholders involved with other networks. The quantitative data were analysed through factor and regression analyses. Results from the quantitative analyses were triangulated with qualitative data. The analysis shows that the NLA has been successful in developing smallholder farmers’ capacities as a result of trust developed through its dedicated project managers. Nonetheless, the NLA has not been more successful at developing agribusiness capacities among Nicaraguan farmers than other networks with the same goals. Results from this study point to the need for facilitating more interactions between the different networks of farmers’ cooperatives and organisations with other stakeholders already active within the Nicaraguan agrifood innovation system.


capacity development, impact evaluation, innovation systems, Latin America, value chains

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