From 5 – 9 August, 2013 a 5-day workshop was held in Managua, Nicaragua to define value chain impact pathways and develop an initial framework for the program’s implementation strategy in the country.
The workshop incorporated participants from a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of smallholder farmer associations, national and international extension partners, national agricultural research institutions, universities, government, and private sector.
Ariel Cajina, of the Nicaraguan Dairy Chamber (Canislac), presented the current context of the Nicaraguan dual-purpose value chain and the government’s livestock development strategy. He highlighted the goal of intensifying livestock productivity while preserving natural resource integrity, as well as the need to improve market opportunities and strengthening policies in favor of small livestock farmers.
The definition of the program’s impact pathways, led by Michael Kidoido (ILRI), included an initial assessment by participants of the current status of the value chain, followed by the identification of the main bottlenecks limiting value chain development. This initial exchange confirmed the predominance of dual-purpose livestock production systems in Nicaragua, and deficient farm management practices that have led to natural resource degradation, forcing poor farmers to migrate in search of suitable land.
Among the main bottlenecks identified by participants as obstacles to value chain development were poor technical assistance, deficient input supply, limited access to financial services, inadequate distribution networks, and lack of regulation at artisanal processing levels.
Participants emphasized the need to strengthen education at consumer level, promoting the consumption of animal source foods to increase local market demand and address the nutrient gap, especially among poor women and children. They also suggested an approach to technical assistance that takes into consideration the importance of analyzing local systems and knowledge, and seek to understand farmers’ decision-making processes.
The site selection group session, led by An Notenbaert (ILRI) allowed the different value chain stakeholders to describe the criteria that should be considered when choosing areas to begin program testing and implementation. These included agro-ecological (climate conditions, resource potential, and vulnerability), social (poverty levels, education, gender dynamics), infrastructure (access to basic services and markets), and economic (access to financial services) criteria.
Participants also stressed the significance of including women and youth in program interventions, especially considering young people as the next generation of decision-makers. Another element that was considered important was addressing the horizontal spread of the agricultural frontier due to land degradation, in order to halt these migration patterns, reverse land degradation, and help poor farmers thrive through intensified production and sustainable resource management.