Challenges in Value Chains

This afternoon's peer assist on value chains session gathered about 35 people in total. Three "peer assitees" shared their challenges with us, one from China, one from Vietnam and the third from the Maldives.

Azma Ahmed Didi of the Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources of the Maldives introduced challenges related to the Fisheries and Agriculture Diversification Project (FADIP). Those challenges include linking small farmers to big buyers, basically organizing the small farmers and fishermen, increasing their bargaining power, have better quality control and get the private sector interested.

Here are the suggestions provided by the participants:
  • use the culture barrier as an advantage, an opportunity in collective marketing
  • find advantages of buying directly products from Maldives for the resorts buyers
  • bring project design limitations to IFAD's attention - start small
  • focus on fisheries that already exist, products that are developed
  • learn from existing products (like watermelons and papayas) that worked out - documenting
  • promote technology to increase production
  • contract farming with the"private sector"
  • look at the competitive advantage of the identified products
  • tap existing companies look for consolidators to provide management services, who should be local
  • ensure quality/quantity
Tran Thi Vien, Project Director for the Programme for Improving Market Participation of the Poor in Tra Vinh, presented a challenge related to how to promote the participation of the poor in pro-poor value links.

Participants contributed the following:
  • don't introduce new products, farmers are not happy, help them choose VLs/products by themselves
  • project should help farmers find buyers (specific enterprises)
  • buyers should be provided with capacity building training
  • learn from other projects who have been doing well in this area
  • engage the private sector to come to the farmers directly
  • the role of the government should be considered - need to improve the legal framework
Lastly, from the MRDP project in China, Mr. Zhang Mengtang's challenge related to an organic farming value chain. Specifically, his challenge relates to the design of the project and the difficulty in its modular approach. He faces challenges in all aspects, from engaging farmers to organic farming, to promoting organic farming and influencing people to buy organic and bring to value chain.

Some of the suggestions he received include:
  • focus on market-driven products
  • use a market path approach
  • start small and expand
  • create market-demand advocacy
  • focus on push and pull (government to farmers, farmers to government)
  • develop incentives for farmers to grow organic products
  • explore other organic inputs or methodologies that can increase production (not related to marketing)
  • link with those who have the market -> export
  • marketing done by the companies
  • aggregate the volume of production - to lessen costs - to increase margin