Piloting 5Capitals-G: a gender-responsive tool for assessing poverty impacts of value chain development


by Dietmar Stoian, Marlène Elias, Hugo Lamers, Gennifer Meldrum | June 30, 2016

A new methodology to assess the poverty impacts of value chain development in a gender-responsive way is set to prove its value in a pilot phase, starting mid-2016 in Guatemala, India, and Peru. To prepare for the launch of the methodology called 5Capitals-G, field researchers from three parts of India were trained in a workshop in April. The training was co-funded by the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). 

Adapted from Bioversity International and Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Over the past decade, value chain development (VCD) involving smallholders has gained momentum among governments, NGOs, and private sector agents committed to reduce rural poverty. Despite their multi-million dollar investments in value chain development, fairly little is known to what extent such initiatives effectively reduce poverty. This is partially due to the fact that appropriate methodologies and tools for assessing the impacts of value chain development on poverty have not been readily available.

Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Bioversity International, CATIE and multiple partners around the globe addressed this gap by developing the 5Capitals methodology. Designed for joint learning among multiple stakeholders, this methodology uses an asset-based approach for assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development at the level of both smallholder households and the enterprises that link them with processors and buyers downstream the value chain. Endowments with and building of livelihood and business assets are measured with a view on human, social, natural, physical and financial capital. Data are obtained in three phases – context analysis, enterprise assessment, and household assessment – through analysis of secondary information, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and semi-structured household interviews.

While the original version of 5Capitals yields valuable insights into asset building at household and enterprise levels, it was felt that both within the household and the enterprise there is a need for a better understanding of the gender-differentiated access to and control over these assets. PIM researchers from Bioversity International and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) have therefore joined forces to develop a gender responsive version of the methodology (5Capitals-G) which will be piloted mid-2016 in India, Guatemala and Peru.

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Day 1: Introduction to the concept of 5Capitals-G methodology. Photo: Gennifer Meldrum/Bioversity International

5Capitals-G looks inside the household and enterprise to elucidate access to, ownership of, and decision-making on livelihood and business assets among women and men. This requires adjusting the tools for context analysis, enterprise assessments and household surveys, as well as the use of mixed teams (men and women interviewers) to collect gender-differentiated data. In April, researchers from Bioversity International trained enumerators in India in the use of the gender-responsive prototype tools. The training workshop was held in Karnataka, where students from the College of Forestry in Sirsi will be testing 5Capitals-G to study the value chains of two forest fruit species: kokum (Garcinia indica) and mango (Mangifera indica). Trainees also included NGO staff from Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu who will test 5Capitals-G in the value chain of brindleberry (Garcinia gummi-gutta) and, possibly, agricultural products, such as finger millet.

The training workshop laid out the conceptual foundation of an asset-based approach to value chain development and the importance of applying a gender lens to identify the access to and control over assets at both household and enterprise level. During the first part of the workshop, the participants pre-tested three prototype tools that, based on the insights gained, were further refined. The field trip to Kadamba, a farmers' cooperative society based in Sirsi with more than 2,000 members from across Karnataka, gave them a hands-on experience in conducting key informant, household, and enterprise interviews.

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Interview with the Village Forest Committee Chief during the field trip. Photo: Gennifer Meldrum/Bioversity International

Workshop participants interviewed the CEO of Kadamba and several female and male employees. This allowed them to gain a differentiated view of the benefits accruing to male and female coop members, including diverse income-generating opportunities in relation to about 30 agricultural and forest products cultivated or collected by women and men. One of the principal products the cooperative buys is kokum, which they process into fresh juices and powdered juice crystals. Key informant interviews were also directed to the leaders of three Village Forest Committees who explained how they manage sustainability issues linked with the collection and commercialization of forest products.

For the household assessments, participants visited women and men smallholders in their homes to understand their experiences with marketing kokum and the ways their involvement in the kokum value chain ties in with the many other activities they pursue to make a living.

Participants grouped into mixed teams of men and women interviewers to first interview the male and female respondents jointly. Then the women interviewers continued with the female respondents and the male interviewers with the male respondents to appreciate differences in the perspectives and realities of women and men. Some of the trainees were surprised to learn how a man and a woman of the same household differ in their perception of who makes decisions on what.

The main takeaways from the workshop were:

  • It is critical to account for diverse, sometimes conflicting, views and needs of women and men in both the households and smallholder enterprises.
  • The design, implementation, monitoring, and assessment of value chain interventions require a gender-responsive approach to ensure that both women and men benefit from the value chain development in an equitable way.


Photo: Dietmar Stoian/Bioversity International

“It was amazing to see the nitty-gritties which have to be considered when designing a tool with gender consideration. There is no ‘one size fits all’ system for social research”, reflected Shambhavi Priyam, a young researcher working with Action for Social Advancement in Madhya Pradesh.

Learning the concepts of gender-responsive research in relation to value chain development helps young researchers to increase the depth of their analysis and builds their capacity to develop gender-equitable solutions for eliminating poverty.

Download workshop report for more detail>>

5Capitals-G will be further tested in timber and non-timber forest product value chains in Guatemala (led by Bioversity International) and the cocoa value chain in Peru (led by ICRAF).

This blog draws on the experience of the following researchers from Bioversity International, who contributed to this story:

  • Dietmar Stoian, Principal Scientist, Value Chains and Private Sector Engagement
  • Marlène Elias, Gender Specialist, Conservation and Management of Forest Genetic Resources
  • Hugo Lamers, Associate Scientist, Socio-economics & Marketing
  • Gennifer Meldrum, Research Fellow, Nutrition and Marketing Diversity

The training was implemented as part of the activity "A multicenter learning and scaling initiative for enhancing PIM value chain tools and improving smallholder participation with a gender lens" funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM). The training was also supported by the USAID-funded project "Innovations in Ecosystem Management and Conservation" (IEMaC) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). Participants in the workshop also included partners of the project "Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk" supported by IFAD, the European Union and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) that promotes value chain development in relation to minor millets.

Featured image: Interview with Village Forest Committee Chief as part of contextual analysis. Credit: Dietmar Stoian, Bioversity International.