On 27-28March 2013, I participated in the first planning workshop of the REVALTER project in Vietnam. REVALTER is the French acronym for Multi-scale assessment of livestock development pathways in Vietnam.
The objective of this project is to study the existing conditions of livestock value chains in Vietnam, with a specific focus on pig and dairy chains, so as to create scenarios of future possible developments for the livestock industry of the country. The three-year project outputs are meant to feed directly into the strategic planning of the Vietnamese Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development and of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
This project received partial funding from the French National Research Agency specifically because the project proposal demonstrated that research outputs would be used immediately by policy makers to influence livestock development outcomes.
Three French research institutes, CIRAD, CNRS and INRA, are working on the project and three Vietnamese counterparts, RUDEC, CASRAD and NIAS also hope to gain from the project’s experience and the doctoral research funding of some of their junior staff.
ILRI participation in REVALTER gives the institute the opportunity to field-test the methods and tools for value chain analysis which have been developed through the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, and Policies Institutions and Markets.
For all research partners involved, this project is an opportunity to collaborate to an industry that is likely to see major changes in the very near future with the continued economic development of Vietnam and increased consumer demand for meat and dairy products. It will also expose the French and Vietnamese partners to research conducted and published in English. These partners already have a ten-year old French-speaking collaboration under the MALICA research consortium but for many in the room, a special effort was needed to communicate in English when the majority of participants were actually French-speaking. All recognized that they had to try and work in what had now become the most common language to share scientific expertise-English.
This collaboration will contribute to ILRI’s partnership levels and enable the institute to use or adapt already existing methods and tools. I had come to this meeting to present the methods and tools newly developed, but yet to be validated, by my CGIAR colleagues to conduct focus groups and surveys of value chain stakeholders. While at the workshop, I learned that MALICA partners had already developed similar tools that had already been field-tested in Vietnamese livestock chains. The consensus among research partners was thus to take a closer look at all the tools we knew of and to pick the most relevant questions from these different toolkits so as to achieve the REVALTER research objective of understanding the governance of current Vietnamese livestock value chains.
The lesson I have learned from this interaction is that no one research institute, including ILRI, can claim to be the only source of international knowledge and methods in agricultural research and development projects. In the strongly research-oriented REVALTER project, French and Vietnamese research partners have extremely valid contributions to make concerning how we can analyse livestock value chains in Vietnam.
Jo Cadilhon is an Agricultural Economist with the Policy Trade and Value Chains Program at ILRI. Jo mainly works on innovation platforms and value chain analysis within the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets. He also contributes to the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program with a specific focus on the study of pig value chains in Vietnam.