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Understanding The Agricultural Value Chain

March 2021

Investing In Innovation To Help Catalyse Agricultural Development

A common and important impact across several of the value chain training sessions has been the improvement in relationships and collaborations

As the impacts of the global pandemic, climate change, migration and conflicts threaten progress towards the goals of ending poverty and malnutrition, experts continue to express the importance of innovation in modernizing and sustaining agri-food systems.

“From production to processing, financing and marketing, as well as in how producers organize themselves to address these challenges is critical, investments in innovations in agriculture will therefore help catalyze development” says Michael Hailu the former Director of CTA.

“The agricultural sector is rapidly evolving, creating many opportunities for producer organisation and agribusinesses, and a farmer-inclusive value chain development approach is a powerful formula for developing sustainable linkages in the Pacific.”

Why Value Chain Analysis & Awareness Is Important

Since 2006 several development partners have promoted value chain analysis in the Pacific region, in 2007 FAO hosted the first regional workshop on Value Chain Analysis, held in the Solomon Islands. It was followed by a paper entitled, Participatory Value Chain Analysis For Improved Farmer Incomes, Employment Opportunities and Food Security.

“The value chain approach is oriented toward the market and what consumers want,” says Kyle Stice, Special Advisor to PIFON. “By analyzing the value, information is obtained that should lead to better decision making by those involved including farmers and traders, and those wanting to support the value chain like policy makers and donors.”

“Too often we see individual actors along the value chain and policy makers who don’t appreciate the contribution each actor makes in getting the final product (value added) to the consumer.

Kyle Stice said: “Farmers and other actors along the chain often don’t realise how many people are involved, and what they do, in getting the final product to the consumer. It’s better to work together to increase the size of the pie rather than fighting to increase your share of a smaller pie.”

In 2012 the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) commissioned studies in several countries on issues relating to green and inclusive chains that had been established by the private sector, including in the Pacific with funding from FAO. Local consultants through Koko Siga Pacific undertook a series of value chain assessments.

Since 2014 PIFON has been running value-chain training sessions withs its farmer organisation members in the Pacific.

Impacts of Value Chain Analysis & Awareness

Interviews with participants and trainers involved in the various Value Chain training sessions reveal that 100% of the participants reported having a change in mindset related to the other actors in the value chain.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Lavinia Kaumaitotoya, Manager of PIFON. “It was reportedly directly related to the exercise of systematically looking at the actor in terms of what the actor contributes to the final product, the cost of the actor’s contribution, the reward the actor receives and the actor’s risk.”

“A significant impact of this type of training is that it helps participants think more critically about the business of agriculture and ask themselves the right questions.”

Lavinia Kaumaitotoya said: “In some cases the farmers had felt they were the most important person in the chain and that everything should revolve around their needs. After participating, they had realized that actually the customer is the most important person and everyone else is working together to give the customers what they want.”

An important impact reported  by several of the farmer organisations is that they have translated and incorporated value chain training materials into their own programmes.

“The training was very beneficial to the growers and now they understand how things start and where they end and also the costing from the nursery up to the market,” says Sinai Tuitahi, the Chief Executive Officer of Growers Federation of Tonga.

“This work helped guide our activities and in setting prices when we had just established the industry, the growers also had a better understanding about how we got to this price, what are our costs and what everyone along the chain receives.”

Tei Tei Taveuni Chairman, Alan Petersen said the Value Chain Training Sessions resolved issues of mistrust between farmers and the middleman.

“Most of us did not really have any idea of the intermediaries along the chain, we understood that the dalo went to the middleman, the middleman sold to an exporter and the exporter exported it. That was our basic knowledge.”

“There’s a lot of mistrust between farmers and the middleman, so this VC training was really useful as it gave the farmers an idea, well it gave us all an idea of all the different links in the chain before it reached the market and what our market was. Most of us has no idea where our dalo was going or who bought our dalo.”

Alan Petersen said: “We invited all our champion farmers – farmers that are lead farmers in our farm groups – to attend the training and it was very good, very basic and to the point, it was appreciated by the farmers to see the value chain, our part in it as farmers and how important each link in the chain is.”

A common and important impact across several of the value chain training sessions has been the improvement in relationships and collaborations.

“Prior to the trainings, we were just doing our work and like everybody was doing theirs and we thought that is his job, and this is my job,” says Praneel Mudaliar, the Managing Director of export business, Sunrise Produce.

“But now the VC training strengthened our relationships, now everyone’s taking responsibility for what they are supposed to do.”

To date Nature’s Way Cooperative has incorporated elements of the Value Chain Guide into a new publication entitled, Fiji Export Procedures For Selected Crops – Guidelines For ‘Team Fiji’ To Bring Back The Gold, widely used by Nature’s Way Cooperative, Ministry of Agriculture and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji as a training resource.

Tutu Rural Training Centre has translated and incorporated elements of the value chain training material into the curriculum of the Young Farmers Course.

MORDI Tonga Trust and the Nishi Foundation, which were collaborators under the PIFON supported Value Chain training, have incorporated elements of the training materials into the syllabus and training manual of their Farmer Field Schools.

NEXT: Value Chain Analysis of Virgin Coconut Oil Domestic Markets: The Banaban Case Study

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