Guides for value chain development: a comparative review

In recent years, governments, donors, and NGOs have increasingly embraced value chain development (VCD) for stimulating economic growth and combating rural poverty. In line with the rise in interest, there has been a proliferation of guides for facilitating the design and implementation of VCD.

Authors of the paper recently published in the Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies reviewed and compared 11 such guides along six different dimensions, ranging from objectives and definitions of VCD to methods for data collection, treatment of gender, and impact assessment. The comparison brings to light how guides differ in their developmental approach (e.g. a focus on better market links vs improved business environment), their developmental goals (poverty reduction, economic growth, decent work), and their targeted users (government agencies, NGOs, private sector). Guides also vary in terms of their information requirements, and overall complexity, conceptualization of value chain concepts, and incorporation of local actors into research and strategy formulation, among other factors.

The review will be useful for both those who develop the guides and those who implement them. Authors point out gaps that should be addressed in the future VCD guides, including the need for better instructions on how to adjust their implementation based on the business environment and the context in which smallholders and rural SMEs operate. Recommendations on guide usage take into account user interests and the development context. For example, some guides are particularly suited to developing value chains that link smallholders to local markets while others are especially appropriate for links to export markets.

This work is part of PIM’s research on value chains and efficient trade and particularly of the effort to create regional Value Chain Hubs linking CGIAR researchers and development practitioners. Follow up research aimed at better understanding the needs of development practitioners and the private sector in design and implementation of VCD is under way at a number of PIM’s participating centers, including Bioversity International, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Potato Center (CIP), and World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF).

Citation: Jason Donovan , Steven Franzel , Marcelo Cunha , Amos Gyau , Dagmar Mithöfer , (2015) "Guides for value chain development: a comparative review", Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Vol. 5 Iss: 1, pp.2 - 23.

Featured Image: Practical exercise on mapping sheep and goat value chains in Ethiopia. Flickr, ILRI. Photo credit: Zerihun Sewunet.