Getting the right links for your value chain

By Kate Langford

The following blog was written by Kate Langford, Communications Officer at the World Agroforestry Centre.

Women selling produce at the Goa City Market. (Photo credit: Kate Langford)

A new review of guidelines and manuals for value chain analysis in agriculture and forestry will help deliver more effective rural development projects.

Most poverty reduction strategies in developing countries seek to promote access to markets by smallholder farmers, but finding information about what kinds of approaches will work in what kinds of situations is not easy.

Dr Steven Franzel, Head of Research into Marketing and Extension at the World Agroforestry Centre, explains that the value chain concept is extensively used in the design of market-driven rural development projects.

“The array of different information available on value chain development can be quite daunting for the practitioner or researcher who needs to come up with a strategy that can really make a difference to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers,” says Franzel.

It is for this reason that the World Agroforestry Centre published a review of 32 value chain analysis manuals concerning agriculture and forestry. The review aims to help the user identify which manuals which will be most applicable for their specific needs and circumstances.

Franzel believes the review will be of particular use to field staff of development and research organizations but also helpful to policy makers, educators and the private sector.

“For example, if someone is working on a project concerning bananas in East Africa and wants to find about participatory methods for conducting rapid value chain appraisals, they can quickly identify manuals that have case studies on bananas and that present participatory methods for rapid appraisals.”

One significant issue is that existing guidelines and manuals often have differing objectives and are not consistent in their use of concepts and terms. The Centre’s review looks at the commonalities and differences in the definition of value chain and other relevant terms.

All four stages of value chain analysis are described in detail in the review: appraisal, design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. For each of the 32 guidelines or manuals, there is a brief overview of the contents, the specific survey instruments, case studies and the web address or other means of accessing it.

The review is also helpful in that it categorizes the manuals into those that deal with all four stages of value chain analysis; those focusing on the first two stages, appraisal and design; those that deal with particular types of products, such as forest products; and those examining special topics cutting across the other guidelines, such as collective marketing, farmer-trader relations or gender analysis.

Click here for a full review which is available online as a World Agroforestry Centre occasional paper.

How do you think the new guidelines will benefit smallholder farmers in the developing world? 

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