There have been numerous initiatives in the Pacific region over the past decade to mainstream the concept of value chains into the agricultural development arena. Since 2012, the ACP/EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) has been at the forefront of value chain development in the Pacific region, supporting a number of value chain studies and the publication of the ‘Agricultural Value Chain Guide for the Pacific Islands’.
This CTA guide was intended to provide a simplified approach to value chain analysis and therefore make that approach useful to ‘farmers, traders and policy makers’.
From 2014-2017, the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) implemented a programme to pilot farmer-orientated value chain training through its farmer organisation members. The CTA guide was used and the training sessions were supported through several externally funded projects, including the IFAD/SDC1 funded MTCP II project and the EU/SPC PAPP project. PIFON believes that farmer organisations have an important role to play in disseminating key information to their members and in helping to ‘extend the reach of government and aid agencies’.
These VC training sessions targeted chain actors involved in the:
- Value chain for spices in Vanuatu (through the Farm Support Association and Venui Vanilla)
- Value chain for ginger in Fiji (through Fiji Crop and Livestock Council)
- Value chain for papaya in Tonga (through Growers Federation of Tonga)
- Value chain for Taro in Fiji (through Tei Tei Taveuni and the Tutu Rural Training Centre)
- Value chain for papaya in Fiji (through Nature’s Way Cooperative)
CTA is currently implementing a project entitled ‘Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands’ (2016-2020), in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO). Under this project, CTA has commissioned PIFON to document the lessons learned about the value chain training, through production of a video and this publication.
This report explores a range of impacts of the initial piloting of value chain training in the Pacific. These included:
- The beginnings of a change in the mind-set of the actors in the value chain –particularly farmers
- The incorporation of the value chain ‘way of thinking’ into normal extension activities of farmer organisations
- Improvements in relationships and better collaboration
- Increased supply of produce
- Value chain training materials being translated/adapted/adopted into training programmes
This report also summarises a range of key lessons learned including:
- Appropriate value chain resource materials are a necessary requirement for successful value chain training
- Value chain training can be broken down into two categories: value chain analysis and value chain awareness
- The most effective training was when both the producer and the buyer were present
- Value chain analysis does not have to be done by academics or highly paid consultants – it is a tool accessible to farmers, traders and policy makers
- Value chain training should not be done as a one-off but requires ongoing follow up
- Field visits and ‘walking the chain’ are critical to a successful value chain training course
- Government agricultural staff generally lack a fundamental understanding of the value chain ‘way of thinking’
- Value chain analysis/awareness is an important resource that anyone working in agriculture should have in their ‘tool box’
Finally, the report presents a set of recommendations for the way forward which include:
- There is a need for further investment in value chain training, building on the lessons learned
- There is a need for ongoing and more in-depth training for farmer organisations on value chain analysis
- There is a need to revise and update the CTA ‘Agricultural Value Chain Guide for the Pacific Islands’, taking on board the lessons learned from the initial piloting of farmer-orientated value chain training and other up-to-date information
- There is a need for farmer organisations and Ministry of Agriculture staff to prepare locally adapted training materials for ‘value chain awareness’ based on sound ‘value chain analysis’
- There is a need to extend training on value chain analysis and awareness to Ministry of Agriculture staff and other value chain actors around the Pacific
A key finding from the assessment of the initial piloting of farmer-orientated value chain training in the Pacific is that it has been a successful initial start that needs to be consolidated and built upon in order to have a sustainable impact.