Originally published at: http://humidtropics.cgiar.org/assessing-value-chains-to-improve-incomes-and-food-security/
Humidtropics researchers Aziz A. Karimov and Thinh Nguyen from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in collaboration with partners from Tay Nguyen University (TNU) and Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (WASI) organized a Value Chain Stakeholders workshop in the the Central Highlands of Vietnam in November 2014, at Dacruco Hotel, Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak Province. Around 45 participants attended the workshop which included researchers from TNU and WASI, representatives from Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Kon Tum provinces, extension centers, farmer clubs and private companies, as well as other value chain actors who are involved in producing, collecting, processing and trading selected commodities. The commodities were chosen from the secondary information already contained in Humidtropics Situation Analysis Report prepared for Central Highlands and some robust feedback from local well-informed stakeholders and researchers.
Value Chain Stakeholders workshop participants in the the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
While the studied region is an important coffee producing area and many smallholder farmers are involved in coffee production, their dependence on coffee at a time of declining coffee prices made income diversification an essential task. Since the coffee is already extensively studied in the region, the study concentrated on other major commodities within the farming system. One of the commodities selected was cassava which is an important crop in the area leading to the animal feed industry and to other agro-industries. It is also an industrial starch crop and the cassava leaves are used for human and animal consumption. Another commodity chosen was a pepper. It is good to note that over the last decade Vietnam has steadily increased its influence on pepper international market and the pepper from the region is characterized by its better taste and higher quality. It is considered a vital cash crop for its national and international market outlets. Within livestock commodities, ILRI is already working with partners on pork value chains as part of the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program. There is a rising demand for beef in urban centers and in general growing market for it in Vietnam. There are prospects for smallholder farmers to produce fatter animals, obtaining higher output prices and reducing labour force by shifting from grazing to stall – feeding. Thus our research focused on the development of local beef value chains in Central Highlands. The study region is also known for producing the high quality avocados in Vietnam. Avocado was chosen for the study because of high market prospective and because of its better nutritional value and its potential to increase the local rural people’s poor-quality diet. The chosen four commodities play a significant role to Vietnamese rural smallholder farmers providing firm profits over a longer term if production, disease, market access and quality concerns are also properly addressed.
The workshop stakeholders used the LINK methodology developed by the Center for International Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The LINK methodology is very useful participatory tool which helps to comprehend the current structure of the market chain and key business models. The chosen methodological approach uses expert advice gathered by stakeholders during a two days workshop. Stakeholders together with CGIAR researchers synthesize gained information to characterize chosen value chains and key business models within the value chain and come up with entry points for possible marketing interventions. In the first day of the workshop participants mapped the value chains of above mentioned commodities. Value chain mapping helped to depict the basic arrangement of the existing value chain for commodities. It describes the way the commodity flows from a farm gate to end markets and illustrates how the particular value chain functions. The mapping exercise provided an immense opportunity for multi-stakeholder debates to disclose opportunities and bottlenecks to be addressed. On the second day, participants identified key business models within the chosen value chains for linking smallholder farmers to dynamic markets. The developed business model canvas for each commodity assists establishing a grounded dialog between smallholders, development and private actors and shows how business processes can support local economy. It describes enterprise‘s business model and highlights bottlenecks and financial imbalances. More importantly, it identifies areas for upgrading and innovation.
The workshop was featured in the local e-newspaper (in Vietnamese), and on the front page of Dak Lak's Newspaper.
The workshop participants identified a set of potential interventions such as, improving market access and better markets for services, moving towards demand driven production, enhancing a policy, legislative and regulatory business atmosphere for chosen commodities and strengthening institutional capacity, improving land tenure to establish sustainable and profitable smallholder farming systems taking into account suitability of cultivated land and negative impact of intensification to environment, increasing returns through improved post-harvest handling, storage, processing and marketing, introducing high quality plant varieties and animal breeds, developing rural credit services to finance innovative practices, boosting gender participation in decision making to improve women’s living and reducing poverty and enhancing farmers’ capacity to adopt new technology and groundbreaking practices that are market driven.
The complete findings of the workshop which is based on rapid appraisal will be described in the follow up technical report that will be available early next year. The research will use the findings of this workshop and conduct in depth inclusive value chain analysis in 2015.
Aziz responds to the questions of a journalist from Dak Lak Newspaper:
Blog Aziz A. Karimov, Scientist, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Blog edited by Valérie Poiré, Communication Officer, Humidtropics. Photo and video by ILRI. Interpreter: Nga Le.
Acknowledgements: We thank Mark Lundy from CIAT and Jo Cadilhon from ILRI for their methodological support and discussions we had before the workshop.