Flagship 3: Inclusive Value Chains and Efficient Trade (2012-2016)

If connections between producers and consumers are weak or costly, farmers earn less and shoppers pay more. How can market links be strengthened when distances are great, roads and communications poor, producers and consumers many and rarely organized, and changes in policy frequent?

This flagship is designed to help systematize research on value chains, initially within CGIAR, but subsequently more broadly within the wider development profession. The work focuses on generalizable lessons about interventions that work well under various circumstances.


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Flagship 3 brings together work on national, regional and global trade policies (Cluster 3.1), tools for assessing value chains (Cluster 3.2), and interventions to improve value chains (Cluster 3.3).

National, Regional and Global Trade Policies (Cluster 3.1)

With this research, we aim to assist developing countries participating in global and regional trade discussions. The special focus is on the Doha Development Agenda negotiations (Bali results and next steps), regional trade agreements, export restrictions, and policy measures related to food security. We also support research on measuring policy distortions and incentives in food systems and global value chains for biofuels.

Measuring the policy environment

A wide array of policies (trade, tax, investment, and so on) determines the incentive environment for producers and other actors along supply chains and ultimately affects prices for consumers. Policymakers in developing countries can benefit from objective measures that allow them to see how interventions in agriculture affect the competitiveness of their farmers and affordability of food for consumers.

In 2013, PIM joined with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the World Trade Organization, the Asian Productivity Organization, and others to form a learning network and create a common platform for sharing of existing approaches to measurement and coordination of activities of various stakeholders. OECD and PIM co-convene the group twice a year and members interact virtually between meetings.

Biofuel policy in the EU: benefit or burden for the global environment?

Biofuels have been promoted as a renewable energy environmentally more benign than fossil fuels. A number of developed countries have mandated use of a proportion of biofuel in blended fuel products. Despite the merits of biofuels, concerns have been raised about the environmental implications when land is converted to biofuel production from other uses and about the impact of biofuel mandates on the level and volatility of prices of primary food commodities. IFPRI, with the support of PIM, has undertaken analysis to inform the debate on biofuels. The results have been used by participants in the EU debates to propose reforms in the EU: the EU’s Environment Committee voted on July 11, 2013, to set a cap on the amount of energy produced from food and energy crops while encouraging the use of advanced biofuels, such as straw and algae, and electric vehicles. Debate continues, and IFPRI’s work on the topic remains in high demand.

In 2015-2016, our bioenergy team will focus on the study of biofuel value chains and policies in developed and developing countries. The goal is to see how various actors of the value chain - crop producers, processing sector, livestock industry, and final consumers - are influenced by the mandatory biofuel policies, and what broader environmental and social impacts they incur.

Tools for Assessing Value Chains (Cluster 3.2)

Research team working under this cluster develops tools to understand and measure problems and opportunities in value chains that particularly affect poor producers and consumers.

Value Chains Knowledge Clearinghouse: sharing research methods and good practice

The Value Chains Knowledge Clearinghouse, an initiative led by PIM with inputs from Bioversity International, CIAT, CIP, ICRAF, ICRISAT, IFPRI, IITA, and ILRI, provides a comprehensive, easily accessible repository of research methods and good practice in the assessment of value chains’ performance. Some of the tools are already used by implementation partners, such as IFAD and the US Feed the Future initiative, and other partners have expressed interest.

tools4valuechainsThe Clearinghouse (tools4valuechains.org) addresses the interests of five types of users: generalists, farmers, private actors, development practitioners, and researchers. Each section presents tools and good practice selected for the specific audience, instructions on application of the tools, a calendar of events, and a network for communication. Materials posted on the Clearinghouse are intended to contribute toward making value chains more efficient and more inclusive of smallholders, women, and marginalized groups.

In 2015-2016 we plan to establish regional value chain hubs in Lima and Addis Ababa to strengthen the use of improved methods and tools by regional clients.

Interventions to Improve Value Chains (Cluster 3.3)

This work is linked to that on measuring policy distortions under Cluster 3.1 to identify priority value chains and measure value lost through bad policies and institutional gaps. A particular area of focus is improved measurement of post-harvest losses.