Engagement / Fish / Livestock

Feedback: Impact through focus on value chains?

We sought comments on the question: “The proposed approach commits the CGIAR Centers to achieve impact by catalyzing development and research interventions in a few value chains in a few countries. Is it an effective approach for the CGIAR to take? Please comment: What are the risks of such an approach, and how could we manage those risks?”

Everyone essentially endorsed the approach: 15 of 20 blog commentators clearly supported it.

‘Only way to achieve significant practical impact…’ ‘Very effective’ ‘Better to have few…’ ‘Will be workable…’ ‘Focus necessary’ ‘ Effective approach’ ‘Of course it is effective’

Results from the survey:
N=57
Strongly agree: 29.3% Agree: 58.7% Disagree: 8.6% Strongly disagree: 3.4%

A number of risks were highlighted. Recurrent themes included:

  • Need to manage specificity of working in few places
  • Will need sufficient case studies – consider Open Education Resources approach
  • Plan for phases expanding to other sites
  • Pay attention to potential for limited applicability of results; is scaling out feasible?
  • Understand the different development paths for the different livestock and their products
  • Focus on value chain bottlenecks with wide applicability elsewhere (use quantitative analysis to assess)
  • There is a chance the CG will become irrelevant to many of the non-selected countries
  • Use off-site trials to validate concepts and exploit regional diversity
  • Careful selection of value chains will be critical
  • Need clear criteria, including measuring their local perceived importance
  • Avoid researcher and convenience bias
  • Country economic context, political interferences can be a risk
  • Understand regional context and risks
  • Choose based on highest potential impact, return to investment
  • Must offer competitive advantage, at least locally
  • Use participatory processes for consultation, involvement
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate with beneficiaries and policy makers– to set expectations and share progress, past achievements
  • Inclusiveness for equity, but should everyone have an equal voice?
  • Need to understand and identify incentives to participate; need buy-in
  • Working with a value chain is not like working with specific partners; actors will need to be brought together
  • Good implementation
  • Set performance targets and clarify impact pathway
  • Transparency needed when problems are encountered
  • Improve technology dissemination to reach poor farmers, to reach other regions
  • Good knowledge management needed – clearinghouse function for research results
  • How to address large demand for capacity building in other regions?
  • Effective partnerships needed
  • Depends on synergies and minimizing transaction costs – conduct a partnership analysis
  • Deliberate efforts needed to identify partners in areas for scaling out
  • Based less on contracts and more of understanding incentives for each and trust

One comment challenged the underlying assumption that poor livestock keepers and small-scale systems have the capacity and potential to expand production that will effectively increase consumption of animal source foods among the poor. There does not appear to be a convincing body of evidence to support the argument either way.

Other points made:

  • Rely on private sector in sites with weak policy and institutional framework
  • Address fragmented markets by influencing investment to link actors
  • Too much focus on marketing livestock commodities, not enough on institutions, access to resources, and the other risk-related purposes why the poor keep livestock
  • Identify impact pathway to ensure benefits are sustained
  • Gap between commercial and subsistence fish farming; requires looking at by-laws controlling use of water bodies
  • Scaling out won’t be simple ‘spilling over’ of results; need to recognize that it will require repeating the whole process
  • Hope orientation will be ‘farmer first’ rather than ‘researcher first’
  • When possible, better to conduct research through many countries
  • Proposed approach looks too ‘mechanistic’ with linear technology uptake; leave room for ‘controlled uncertainty’
  • More reasonable to first review first range of value chain structures in developing countries and then target representative situations to cover range, to avoid missing important situations unique to regions not included
  • Risk of development intervention failing and being stopped – review successes and failures first
  • Need to link women to micro-credit to permit technology uptake
  • Looks more like an experiment rather than an attempt to improve the condition of the world’s poor
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One thought on “Feedback: Impact through focus on value chains?

  1. Considerable emphasis in research has been put on the supply sides of the livestock and fish value chains. The potential of the demand side has been underexploited large because inadequate research into options for expanding the market. With the market setting the pace for research, the farmers would be able respond to the effective demands of the market.

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