Rapid urbanization, growing middle classes, changes in dietary patterns, and population growth have spurred a rising demand for livestock and fish products in global markets and developing countries. This creates an opportunity for demand-led development interventions that have the potential to benefit the 1 billion people whose livelihoods directly or indirectly depend on livestock, and the 0.5 billion people that depend on fish globally.
Value chain development assists to remove bottlenecks to good quality and affordable supply of livestock and fish products, enhance linkages between chain actors, improve coordination, processes and products in a way that they increase benefits for chain actors and consumers, and ensure that high quality inputs and services are available.
The conference “Making the connection: Value Chains for transforming smallholder agriculture” held in Addis Ababa from November 6 – 9 brought together a range of participants from the private sector, governments, farmers, civil society, research, development, and the donor community to share experiences related to value chain development.
Froukje Kruijssen, Postdoctoral fellow, Markets and Trade from WorldFish attended the conference to support a round table discussion facilitated by Derek Baker (ILRI) examining livestock and fish value chains, and drawing out lessons from interventions and the reasons for their success or failure. Three panel members from the dairy, beef and fish sectors set the scene for the discussion in which the entire audience was actively involved.
The panel members and audience agreed that there is great potential for small and medium-scale producers to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the growing demand for meat, milk and fish.
Participants had initial difficulty in identifying specific “value propositions” as offered by smallholder livestock value chains. Discussion helped focus these definitions, which centred on two themes: consumer segments (those demanding high quality) and cost savings by way of improved organization or access to inputs and services. One example shared was that small-scale tilapia producers can take advantage of consumer segments by supplying smaller sized, and therefore more affordable fish to poor consumers.
Some examples of successful interventions offered by both the panel and the audience related to the improvement of horizontal coordination through the organization of farmers. Dairy farmers organized into farmer groups and cooperatives, coupled with the establishment of milk collection centres, were able to overcome the challenges of getting their milk to the market caused by their farms being scattered over large areas. Such cooperative models have also been found to facilitate capacity building and payment systems based on quality. Cooperative models have also been successful for small-scale fish farmers, allowing producers to share costs and make efficient use of natural resources.
WorldFish is engaged in value chain development in the Egyptian aquaculture sector, which has the potential to improve the efficiency and productivity of the aquaculture industry, and directly benefit women fish traders and processors, and poor consumers.
Egyptian aquaculture has grown rapidly, with annual production increasing by almost 650,000 tonnes between 1994 and 2009. The industry provides over 100,000 full or part-time jobs along the value chain from production to final sale, and is a prime example of how, if scaled up, the rising demand for fish products can benefit the lives and livelihoods of millions around the globe.
By Froukje Kruijssen and Holly Holmes