The term ‘value chain’ has become very much in vogue in the past decade among those working in agricultural development, with an increasing number of aid organisations using it to guide their development interventions, both for upgrading existing chains and promoting innovation and as a tool to identify market access opportunities for small farmers.

CTA’s Strategic Plan for 2011-15 identifies value chain improvement as being essential for agricultural and rural development.

As a first step, we commissioned a ‘Mapping Study’ to better understand how the value chain concept was being used in ACP countries and the potential role for CTA. This study stressed that CTA could best assist in areas such as improving capacities, promoting stakeholder networking and facilitating knowledge sharing. These are, of course, core areas of CTA’s expertise, which we can now apply to value chain development issues.

We are also planning a major international conference in November, to bring together agricultural value chain practitioners from around the world and expose policymakers, the private sector, civil society and others to the major issues. Topics likely to be discussed include how value chains can be environmentally sustainable, how small-scale pilot interventions can be ‘scaled up’ to a commercial size, the role of governments in supporting value chain development, financing of value chains and capacity development, including making existing materials more relevant to ACP users. We hope that many of the speakers will come from the ACP’s private sector to talk about their innovative approaches to value chain development.

We will also publish a special issue of Spore on agricultural value chains prior to the Conference.

Michael Hailu, Director - CTA

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