Under what conditions are value chains effective tools for pro-poor development?

Publication by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Sustainable Food Lab (SFL)

Designing trading relationships that reach and benefit small-scale producers in a sustainable way can be a challenge for practitioners who engage directly with women in agriculture. Understanding the benefits, costs and risks when connecting small-scale producers to formal markets is critical to informing companies, farmers, NGOs and donors in their decision to invest in supply chain opportunities. Key questions include: Who are the rural poor? Under what conditions do they benefit? What are the implications of these lessons for our strategies in setting up ‘pro-development’ value chains? What do we most need to understand next?

This paper seeks to address these questions from not only a review of literature, but from experience with a cluster of value chain projects run by development organizations and businesses in Africa and Latin America. The research was conducted by the IIED and the SFL, supported by the Ford Foundation in 2010.