Producer-led value chain analysis: The missing link in value chain development

Resource type
Producer-led value chain analysis: The missing link in value chain development
Introduction and rationale The concept of a value chain is increasingly being applied in the design and implementation of development programs aimed at poverty reduction. As an analytical tool, it provides a useful framework for understanding key activities, relationships, and mechanisms that allow producers, processors, buyers, sellers, and consumers—separated by time and space—to gradually add value to products and services as they pass from one link of the chain to another, making it a “value chain” (UNIDO, 2009). While it has been popular in the private sector ever since it was conceptualized by Michael Porter in the 1980s, more recently various donors and governments have shown interest in its use and have applied it to a range of development interventions, particularly in the area of sector development, livelihoods promotion, small and medium enterprise (SME) development, and rural and economic development. Academics and development organizations have designed numerous instruments for value chain analysis (VCA) and implementation. Beginning in the early 2000s, international organizations and donor agencies have sponsored the development of these tools, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the International Labour Organization (ILO). These guides and tools have been used in many development programs to address organizational, donor and local and regional priorities for development. While VCA guides and tools are important in understanding markets and relationships among key stakeholders, a recent comparative review of popularly used guides by Donovan et al. (2013) suggests that most of these guides are designed to be implemented independently of the local context and do not sufficiently focus on mutual learning, whether related to tool design or to the outcomes and impacts of the designed project activities. VCA is often conducted by external experts and the knowledge generated in the process is often confined to reports. Without the capacity building and effective participation of women and men producers—smallholder farmers who hold critical knowledge about the local context—an important link is missing in the entire process of VCA. The insufficient attention to the human, social, and other contextual factors undermines the full potential of the value chain systems approach, not only for economic outcomes, but for the long term sustainability of the intended benefits. So what are the ways to effectively engage producers in the community in the VCA? The producer-led process described here tries to address this basic question. It introduces simplified tools and an approach that ensures farmer participation in data collection, analysis, and identification of opportunities and constraints, and design of value chain interventions. This participation requires: a) an environment in which they feel comfortable to share their knowledge and insights, which is often not the case when extractive surveys and questionnaires are administered to collect information; and b) the use of simple and participatory tools that will allow them to provide inputs into the process of VCA and also help them to understand complex value chain systems and use this understanding for making livelihood decisions. The key steps and tools described are aimed at empowering the women and men farmers to make informed decisions about their own enterprises and how they relate to the value chain, thereby directly contributing to, and influencing, the overall process of value chain development. The process of VCA involving these steps and tools was developed at Coady Institute and first tested with Oxfam Canada and its local partners in Ethiopia in August 2012.
Library Catalogue
Ghore, Y. (2015). Producer-led value chain analysis: The missing link in value chain development. Coady.