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Value chain development with the extremely poor: Evidence and lessons from CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision

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CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision are combining value chain development (VCD) with gender and nutrition programming to alleviate poverty and food insecurity among the extremely poor. We explore what is unique about VCD with the extremely poor and how specific levers enhance productivity and profitability, equity, and empowerment. We offer evidence to date and lessons learned.
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March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
Value chain development with the
extremely poor: evidence and lessons from
CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision
DAN NORELL, EMILY JANOCH, ELLY KAGANZI,
MALINI TOLAT, MONTY L. LYNN,
AND EMILY C. RILEY
Dan Norell, MSW, MBA (dnorell@worldvision.org) is Senior Technical Advisor, Economic Development
at World Vision; Emily Janoch, MPP (ejanoch@care.org) is Deputy Director, Knowledge Management
and Learning at CARE; Elly Kaganzi, MA (ekaganzi@care.org) is Senior Technical Advisor, Markets and
Livelihoods at CARE; Malini Tolat, MA (mtolat@savechildren.org) is Livelihoods Advisor Asia at Save the
Children US; Monty L. Lynn, PhD (lynnm@acu.edu) is Professor of Management, College of Business
Administration at Abilene Christian University; and Emily C. Riley (emilych@Princeton.edu)
is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Princeton University.
The authors would like to thank Laté Lawson-Lartego, DBA, Senior Director of the Food and Nutrition
Security Unit at CARE USA for his contributions to the article.
© The authors. This open access article is published by Practical Action Publishing and distributed
under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No-derivatives CC BY-NC-ND license.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
http://dx.doi.org/10.3362/1755-1986.16-00024, ISSN: 1755-1978 (print) 1755-1986 (online)
CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision are combining value chain development (VCD)
with gender and nutrition programming to alleviate poverty and food insecurity among the
extremely poor. We explore what is unique about VCD with the extremely poor and how
specific levers enhance productivity and profitability, equity, and empowerment. We offer
evidence to date and lessons learned.
Keywords: value chain development, extreme poor, smallholders, market systems
development
The majority of the world’s poorest people live in South Asia and Sub-Saharan
Africa. Most of these households engage in rural farming and subsist on incomes
at or below the international extreme poverty line of US$1.90 per person per
day (our working definition for the ‘extremely poor’) (FAO, 2015). CARE, Save
the Children, and World Vision are applying inclusive value chain development
(VCD) among households living in extreme poverty in an effort to catalyse
sustained food security. In this article, we discuss how VCD can be applied with
the extremely poor and how five levers of change can improve livelihoods:
1) capacity; 2) access; 3) productivity; 4) household influence; and 5) enabling
environment. We describe examples of how market-based approaches can be
utilized effectively to enhance food security. Although they may be distinctive
at points, we highlight the complementary approaches and outcomes utilized by
CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision in facilitating VCD. We conclude with
programming recommendations.
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VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT WITH THE EXTREMELY POOR 45
Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2 March/June 2017
The Extremely Poor
Several studies support a variety of linkages between market engagement, poverty,
and food security among the extremely poor (e.g. Leahy and Goforth, 2014;
Poole et al., 2013). Stifel and Minten (2017), for example, demonstrate how trans-
portation costs and isolation from markets contribute to lower input use, less
agricultural production, and poorer diets. Smith and colleagues (2013) show that
reducing structural food security obstacles in households and markets can reduce
stunting (low height for age – a measure of malnutrition) among the extremely
poor. Likewise, Norell et al. (2015) and Faveri et al. (2015) demonstrate how
push-and-pull strategies facilitate market inclusion and enhance food security for
women and the extremely poor.
When applied to the extremely poor, VCD often takes on four distinctive qualities:
1. Households are the focus. By targeting ‘the consumer, not the farmer’ (Pittore,
2016: 2), VCD enhances pro-poor outcomes at the household level. Although
traditional goals, such as enhanced income, may be included, VCD inter-
ventions with extremely poor households typically include diversified diets,
improvements in maternal and child nutrition, and other nutrition-related
outcomes (Gelli et al., 2015).
2. Interventions address the considerable challenges faced by the extremely poor. Many
of the extremely poor live in isolated, rural locales where market failure occurs.
High transaction costs and information asymmetries, plus technical, physical,
and financial deficits, make VCD difficult and sometimes infeasible (Pittore,
2016; Stoian et al., 2012).
3. Market, gender, and household dynamics interact. Social, cultural, and environ-
mental factors such as conflict, gender dynamics, and water scarcity impact
value chains and market development (USAID, 2014). Household, gender and
market dynamics interact to augment value chain, agricultural productivity,
and nutritional interventions (Gelli et al., 2015).
4. Broad market systems are engaged. Extremely poor households often benefit from
engaging multiple value chains in informal and formal markets as producers,
processors, and entrepreneurs. Developing multiple chains is often necessary
(Pittore, 2016). Multisectoral programmes that include health and nutrition
components among the extremely poor often are required rather than focusing
exclusively on agricultural value chains (Levinson et al., 2015).
Value chains operate within market systems, which have been described by
Campbell (2014: 2) as ‘a dynamic space – incorporating resources, roles, relationships,
rules and results – in which private and public actors collaborate, coordinate, and
compete for the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.’
Market, nutrition, gender, and other factors intertwine across household, value
chain, and market system levels of analysis. This is part of what makes extremely
poor households unique in VCD. Embedded at each level are issues and levers of
change, such as those reflected in CARE’s Pathways theory of change (see Figure 1),
that focus on enhancing productivity and profitability, equity, and empowerment
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46 D. NORELL ET AL.
March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
using levers of capacity, access, productivity, household influence, and the enabling
environment.
Many VCD models aim to enhance productivity and profitability. VCD among
the extremely poor must also address the empowerment of marginalized women
farmers and consumers, and gender equity with women and men. Value chains and
market systems can exclude the extremely poor, intentionally or otherwise, through
social, economic, and physical barriers, limiting the capacity, access, productivity,
and household influence of women (Ribot and Peluso, 2003). Many of these gaps can
be bridged through VCD innovations (Bolwig et al., 2010; Stoian et al., 2012).
Programming innovations
This section describes efforts to enhance productivity and profitability, equity, and
empowerment. We use the five levers highlighted in Figure 1 – capacity, access,
productivity, household influence, and enabling environment – to describe VCD
initiatives implemented by CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision among
the extremely poor in Bangladesh, India, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Tanzania,
and Zimbabwe. Where available, evidence from external and internal evaluations
documenting initiative impact is provided (see Table 1).
More secure and resilient livelihoods
Food and nutrition security, coping and adapting ability
Productivity and
profitability Equity
Capacity
Enabling environment
More positive and enabling attitudes, behaviours, social norms, policies and institutions
Access
Empowerment
12
34
5
Knowledge, skills
and relationships
Self-confidence
and conviction of
power
Access to
productive
resources, assets
and markets
Appropriate and
reliable services
and input
Productivity
Improved yields
and income
through the
adoption of
sustainable
agriculture and
value addition
Household
influence
Contribution to
and influence
over income and
decision-making
CHANGE LEVER
CHANGE LEVER
CHANGE LEVER
CHANGE LEVER
CHANGE LEVER
Figure 1 CARE Pathways theory of change
Source: Adapted from Brown et al., 2016: 2
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VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT WITH THE EXTREMELY POOR 47
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Table 1 Value chain facilitation programmes, activities, and impact examples
Levers/drivers Activities Programmes (organization) Countries Impacts
Capacity Lead farmers: trusted; provide
technical assistance; coordinate
suppliers and buyers
Nobo Jibon (Save the
Children)
Bangladesh Large increase in sales by companies involved;
dramatic changes in farmer seed purchasing
(Langworthy et al., 2015)
Capacity Agribusiness information centres:
provide technical assistance and
supply and pricing information
Nabo Suchana (World
Vision)
Bangladesh Increased dissemination of knowledge and
timely delivery of agricultural information;
increased percentage to 70% of micro-
producers aware of market information;
improved credibility and linkages of input
dealers and retailers to farmers (Innovision
Consulting, 2015)
Capacity Mobile information: facilitated
mobile platforms to disseminate
market information
ENSURE (CARE, Netherlands
Development Organization
(SNV), World Vision)
Zimbabwe 5,000 farmers receive market information via
cellular platform (World Vision, 2016a)
Capacity Mobile finance: facilitated mobile
savings and loan products through
bank and mobile partnerships;
producer and marketing groups
purchase or sell in bulk through
groups
ENSURE (World Vision, SNV,
CARE)
Zimbabwe Cash flow for producers and entrepreneurs;
fees discourage use (World Vision, 2016a)
Capacity Market linkages: women’s and
producers’ groups learn marketing
skills and build stable relationships
with output markets to increase sales
and prices
Pathways (CARE) Bangladesh,
Ghana, India,
Mali, Malawi,
Tanzania
Farmers in Ghana and Malawi have doubled
the amount of products they sell in
recognized agricultural markets (Brown et al.,
2016)
(continued)
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48 D. NORELL ET AL.
March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
Levers/drivers Activities Programmes (organization) Countries Impacts
Access Village agents: trusted and local;
provide technical advice and inputs;
paid by seed companies; increase
awareness regarding improved seed
For Every Child Value Chain
(World Vision); LAHIA (Save
the Children, World Vision);
Nobo Jibon (Save the
Children)
Malawi,
Niger,
Bangladesh
In Niger in the 2016 growing season, village
agents facilitated farmer access to 11.9 tonnes
of improved seeds and other inputs up
from 2.1 tonnes in 2015; provided technical
assistance to 1,985 farmers on soil fertility
management, micro-dosing and mix-cropping
techniques, bio pesticides, crop density, and
post-harvest techniques, such as cowpea
storage using Purdue Improved Cowpea
Storage bags (Langworthy et al., 2015; Norell
et al., 2015; World Vision, 2016b)
Access Agri-kiosks: 15 provide inputs for
6,000 acres of land each; future
services planned (e.g. soil health
cards)
Pathways, Strengthening
the Dairy Value Chain
(CARE)
India,
Bangladesh
Farmers experienced a 31% increase in their
incomes and vendors earned US$1,394 per
month – eight times the average income
for farmers in the area; farmers halved the
time they spent going to get inputs (a 58%
reduction) and dropped their cost on items
like feed by 92%; shop owners saw a 25%
increase in their sales and a market of 17,000
customers per month (Brown et al., 2016;
McKague and Siddiquee, 2014)
Access Input fairs: provide inputs to 4,000
farmers
Pathways
(CARE)
Ghana Increased use of inputs by 40% (Brown et al.,
2016; Downen et al., 2016)
Access Agro-dealers: trained suppliers
in inventory management; linked
suppliers and village agents; banks
and seed companies encouraged to
offer financing
Nobo Jibon (Save the
Children); ENSURE (CARE,
SNV, World Vision)
Bangladesh,
Zimbabwe
Input sales and usage increased (Langworthy
et al., 2015; World Vision 2016a)
Access Buying centres: facilitate bulk selling
and competitive pricing; producer
representatives visit farmers; pre-
planting meetings with suppliers and
producer groups
Nabo Suchana (Save the
Children); Nobo Jibon (Save
the Children); ENSURE
(CARE, SNV, and World
Vision)
Bangladesh,
Zimbabwe
Benefit-cost ratio = 10.43; pricing transparency;
less information asymmetry; farmers achieved
gross margins of US$1,028, exceeding past
seasons and target of $155 (Innovision
Consulting, 2015; World Vision 2016a)
Table 1 Continued
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VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT WITH THE EXTREMELY POOR 49
Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2 March/June 2017
Levers/drivers Activities Programmes (organization) Countries Impacts
Productivity;
Household
influence
Vaccination: rural entrepreneurs
trained to vaccinate chickens and
ducks
Nabo Suchana (Save the
Children)
Bangladesh Entrepreneurs earning $20 per month;
increased animal vaccinations (Innovision
Consulting, 2015)
Productivity;
Household
influence
Workload sharing ENSURE (CARE, SNV, and
World Vision)
Zimbabwe The proportion of female participants in USG-
assisted programmes designed to increase
access to productive economic resources
(assets, credit, income, or employment)
increased from 30% to 50% for 10–29 year-
olds in one year (World Vision, 2016a)
Productivity;
Household
influence
Changing gender dynamics in
the household: couples’ gender
dialogues, community forums
Pathways (CARE) India Families increased their spending on protein
and vegetables by 15%; 56% of families
increased their spending on health care and
education; women were 84% more likely to be
able to influence household decisions in 2015
than they were in 2012 and 250% more likely
to make decisions about income-generating
activities at home (Brown et al., 2016)
Productivity;
Household
influence;
Enabling
environment
Community dialogues, care groups,
and men’s groups: men and women
discuss gender roles in households
Pathways (CARE) Bangladesh,
Ghana, India,
Malawi, Mali
200% increase in agricultural yields of women
and the extremely vulnerable; over 11,000
hectares of land accessed by women; women
grew 537,498 tonnes of increased agricultural
production; women in leadership positions
increased from 20% to 60%; 70–90%
adoption rates of improved agricultural
techniques; rates of female farmers accessing
agricultural extension services increased
63–89% in different countries (Brown et al.,
2016; Downen et al., 2016)
Continued
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50 D. NORELL ET AL.
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Levers/drivers Activities Programmes (organization) Countries Impacts
Enabling
environment
Marketing committees: 85% women
membership; training in supply
forecasting, cost-benefit analysis,
and business plans
Pathways (CARE) Bangladesh,
Malawi, India,
Mali, Ghana,
Tanzania
200% increase in yield; $4 million in revenue
for female farmers and businesses; the 35%
point spread between men and women on
control over the purchase or sale of assets
was reduced to 19%; likewise, the 44%
point spread between men and women for
control of productive decisions was reduced
by 11 points, to 33% (Brown et al., 2016;
Weatherhead et al., 2016)
Table 1 Continued
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VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT WITH THE EXTREMELY POOR 51
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Capacity
Although infrastructure development may be beneficial, it is often knowledge
and human capital that initially limit the development of sustainable agricultural
production (Fanadzo et al., 2010). To enhance capacity to engage in value chains,
the ENSURE programme in Zimbabwe – implemented by CARE, Netherlands
Development Organization (SNV), and World Vision – facilitated the development
of mobile platforms that disseminated market information to 5,000 farmers through
cellular phones. In World Vision’s Nabo Suchana (‘A Fresh Start’) programme in
Bangladesh, agribusiness information centres provided information to farmers
about quality inputs, farm production techniques, price comparisons of inputs in
different markets, and information about fertilizer and other input usage. Mobile
technology appears to have reduced information asymmetries among poor farmers,
enabling increased capacity.
Save the Children promoted lead farmers as local intermediaries in Bangladesh
to become trusted sources of information and link farmers with input suppliers and
other services in remote areas (Langworthy et al., 2015). Lead farmers play a role
both in input and output markets, serving as points of contact for input suppliers to
collect demand data, demonstrate new technologies, and collect bulk input orders,
while facilitating the aggregation of commodities from small producers or sharing
transportation costs to reach distant markets. It is often in the relationship with the
lead farmer that extremely poor farmers develop a greater sense of self-confidence.
Training programmes provide support to bring the extremely poor into different
markets gradually over time. Some markets have an easier entry, such as vegetables,
where the production can be consumed or sold in the neighbourhood. Cattle,
on the other hand, has a higher entry requirement of financial capital and input/
output markets further from the household.
Access
Extremely poor producers often are located far from markets, which increases the
transaction costs of obtaining supplies, training and pricing information, and
connecting with buyers (Fowler and White, 2014). The findings of a recent study in
northern Ghana (McKague and Siddiquee, 2014) were typical in that about half the
farmers surveyed were located a relatively long distance (32 km) from the nearest
farming supplier. Approaches used to lower the cost of agricultural supplies and
enhance access include village agents, agri-kiosks, input fairs, and agro-dealers.
World Vision partnered with input suppliers in Malawi to identify and train village
agents to provide a variety of agricultural services, often under an exclusive contract
with a single supplier (Norell and Brand, 2014). Village agents live in or travel to
rural locations where extremely poor producers can ask them about crop problems.
Agents provide technical advice and link extremely poor producers to inputs
(see Figure 2). The village agent model reduces transaction costs for input suppliers
by bulking orders and facilitating new markets in rural areas. Village agents offer a
potentially trustworthy relationship, which does not always exist when strangers
offer inputs or advice (Fowler and White, 2014).
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52 D. NORELL ET AL.
March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
In Niger, Save the Children and World Vision’s LAHIA (Livelihoods, Agriculture
and Health Interventions in Action) programme has employed a village agent
model. In many of these areas, farmers have limited access to extension services
(one government agricultural extension agent for 50 villages or 35,000 people) and
few relationships with agro-dealers owing to distance – often 35–65 km away. Each
of the 29 project-trained village agents works within a village of about 700 people.
They are paid a commission by a seed company to provide sales of seeds and
production advice at the village level. The communities select the village agents and
seed company representatives and project staff train them on seed multiplication
and production-enhancing techniques.
In the 2016 growing season, village agents facilitated farmer access to 11.9 tonnes
of improved seeds, up from 2.1 tonnes in 2015. Village agents provided technical
assistance to 1,985 farmers during the 2016 growing season on soil fertility
management and disease control, using micro-dosing and mix-cropping techniques,
bio pesticides, crop density, and post-harvest techniques, such as cowpea storage
using Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage bags. World Vision documented in
monitoring data that agro-dealers facilitated market access for 725 smallholder
products for bulk selling, with 47 per cent of the farmer clients being women
(World Vision, 2016b). This model has created jobs for microentrepreneurs at the
community level and the model is being disseminated in Niger by the government,
seed suppliers, agro-dealers, and development agencies with government technical
support. The government is developing a certification for seed sellers and village
agents and World Vision is developing an operational guide for village agents.
In CARE’s Pathways programme (Brown et al., 2016), Krishi Utsho micro-franchise
social enterprise (CARE, 2015), and Strengthening Dairy Value Chain programmes in
Bangladesh (McKague and Siddiquee, 2014), outcomes linked to agri-kiosks include
EXTREMELY POOR
PRODUCERS
Show crop problem in person
Prevention and protection
services (pre-problem)
Bulk order
(with order producers, often
with bulk discounts)
INPUT SUPPLIER
Comprehensive technical
information & advice
(drives more accurate inventory
selection)
Sells bulked products
Refers to other services
Village agents
live among
or travel to
producers
Figure 2 Village agent model for input supplies
Source: Norell and Brand, 2014: 36
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VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT WITH THE EXTREMELY POOR 53
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higher incomes for farmers, cheaper, easier access to products, stronger businesses,
healthier families, and empowered women.
A CARE (2015) pre- and post-measure assessment of 400 farmers for the Krishi
Utsho micro-franchise network in Bangladesh from 2012 to 2015 found:
• Higher incomes: Farmers in areas covered by micro-franchising had a 31 per cent
increase in income, and vendors were able to earn $1,394 per month or more
than eight times what the average farmer makes in a month.
• Cheaper, easier access to products: Farmers cut the time they spent getting
inputs by 58 per cent and dropped their cost on inputs such as feed by
92 per cent.
• Stronger businesses: Shop owners saw a 25 per cent increase in their sales – serving
nearly 17,000 people a month in 2016.
• Healthier families: Farmers in the Krishi Utsho micro-franchising areas increased
their spending on protein and vegetables by 15 per cent. Fifty-six per cent
of families used their new income to increase spending on health care and
education.
• Empowered women: Women were asked if they could influence household
decisions. Following the programme, 85 per cent of women reported that
they could influence household decision-making in 2015, compared with
46 per cent before the programme in 2012; 95 per cent of women reported
being able to influence a decision on household renovation after, compared
with 25 per cent before; and 84 per cent of women reported being able
to influence their husbands’ selection of an income-generating activity
compared with 24 per cent prior to the programme.
In Ghana, CARE’s Pathways programme has used input fairs rather than kiosks to
facilitate access. Over 4,000 farmers and traders have participated in at least one fair,
leading to a 40 per cent increase in input use (Downen et al., 2016: ix). To facilitate
input supply linkages, the ENSURE programme in Zimbabwe trained 66 agro-
dealers to improve their inventory systems, facilitated the organization of farmer
associations, connected agro-dealers with a commercial bank for loans, promoted
a fund for agro-dealers to purchase inputs, and encouraged seed companies like
DuPont Pioneer and SeedCo to provide seed on consignment to dealers. These
efforts enhanced the capability of input suppliers to reach rural communities
where previously only 26 per cent of farmers had purchased inputs from agro-
dealers (World Vision, 2016a). Similarly, Save the Children’s Nobo Jibon project in
Bangladesh provided training to the local representatives of input supply companies,
facilitating linkages with the dealers and village agents, and increasing awareness
among farmers of the benefits of using improved seed varieties. As demonstrated
in Figure 3, the impact of these strategies contributed to an increase in sales by the
companies and dramatic changes in farmer seed purchasing.
ENSURE in Zimbabwe partnered with Steward Bank and EcoNet – a cellular telecom
service provider – to create a mobile money savings platform. With the service,
farmers with savings accounts can apply for an ‘Eco-loan’. The loan enhances cash
flow for producers and rural entrepreneurs. Producer and marketing groups buy or
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54 D. NORELL ET AL.
March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
sell in bulk through groups, achieving economies of scale and acting on behalf of
the members. One challenge for extremely poor producers is the nearly six per cent
service charge on smaller transfers ($100), which reflects agent charges and bank
and government fees. Although promising in theory, the innovation has not been
adapted by large numbers of farmers because of the current macroeconomic decline
in the country, limited network coverage in rural areas, high fees, and insufficient
liquidity of local stores that act as agents. To address these challenges, ENSURE in one
location facilitated a contract between farmers and a hatchery that provides local
variety one-day-old or seven-day-old chicks and buys the eggs or broiler chickens.
With these contracts, the farmers are able to get a loan from a bank disbursed and
make repayments on a mobile platform (World Vision, 2016a).
In Bangladesh, farmers are often forced to sell their rice at distant markets,
spending significant sums for transportation. World Vision’s Nabo Suchana project
facilitated selling points in rural communities to help farmers sell small amounts
of rice at a competitive price. The external final evaluators found that over the
five years of the project’s life, there was a $10.43 increase in targeted households’
incomes for every $1 invested in the project (see Table 2) (Innovision Consulting,
2015). The Nabo Suchana external evaluators stated the following:
The field study revealed that this significant increase in income was achieved
due to the following reasons:
Higher productivity and low input costs: Beneficiaries have experienced a 38%
reduction in production cost from the baseline while increasing productivity
by 15%.
Engagement of women in economic activities: Women have been seen to
efficiently manage poultry rearing and homestead vegetables cultivation. Chicken
and duck rearing have been found to be the most popular activities for women.
Apart from livestock, some women have been found to be investing in small
multipurpose shops, handicrafts or petty trading etc. (Innovision Consulting,
2015: 28)
25,000
20,000
15,000
10,000
5,000
0Sales revenue in Bangladesh
Taka (hundreds) Customers
2010 2013
Figure 3 Nobo Jibon (Bangladesh) agro-dealer sales revenue and customers, 2010 and 2013
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Similarly, Save the Children’s Nobo Jibon programme helped establish collection
centres in remote areas of Bangladesh (Langworthy et al., 2015). One of the critical
factors to consider in these centres is economic feasibility based on the estimated sales
potential of different segments of farmers. As the transactions increase in volume,
the information asymmetry between buyers and sellers declines, and extremely poor
farmers benefit from reduced transaction costs and greater transparency in pricing.
To facilitate the collection and delivery of products, ENSURE in Zimbabwe
facilitates buying centres and direct deliveries of bulk produce to buyers. ENSURE
encourages producer group representatives to visit the companies that buy their
agricultural products, and facilitates pre-planting meetings with producer groups to
relay advice from suppliers and buyers. Because of these linkages, ENSURE farmers
have significantly increased land under production. At an ENSURE-assisted irrigation
scheme, producer group farmers recently produced and sold sugar and navy beans
(Michigan peas) to a large food processing company. On average, these bean farmers
achieved gross margins per hectare of $1,028, which is a significant increase over
past seasons and over the target of $155 (World Vision, 2016a).
Productivity and household influence
The third and fourth VCD levers for food security are productivity and household
influence. Although distinct as drivers, we combine them here because they are
intertwined when considering gender dynamics. As a backdrop, it should be
mentioned that household investments in health – including potable water, toilets,
and preventive health care – often present trade-offs for rural households forced
to choose between investing in farm productivity or nutrition and health. Thus,
the relationship between productivity enhancement leading to income growth and
improved nutrition is not always direct. Nutrition is affected by what foods are
available, affordable, and convenient to buy, who decides about food purchases,
and who consumes food. Each household involved in an agricultural value chain
has ‘complex trade-offs between income generation, food security, gender equity,
sustainable resource management, and overall livelihood resilience’ (Stoian et al.,
2012: 57).
Productivity is impacted by hard factors such as the increased use of inputs
and training (see asset discussion earlier), but also by social factors such as
gender relations. The mobility of female farmers to engage in input and output
markets relevant to their production can impact productivity. Women often play
Table 2 World Vision Bangladesh Nabo Suchana benefit-cost ratio
Measure Amount
Project budget $878,380
Average increase in income $775
Total increase in income (beneficiaries=11,800) $9,145,000
Total benefit $9,145,000
Benefit-cost ratio (total benefit/project budget) 10.43
Source: Innovision Consulting, 2015
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56 D. NORELL ET AL.
March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
critical roles in agricultural production, food preparation, and child health and
well-being (Coles and Mitchell, 2011), and they often are major contributors to
total farm productivity (FAO, 2011). Despite these critical roles, women are often
constrained in access and decision-making at the household, community, and
market levels (Coles and Mitchell, 2011; Lambrecht, 2016). Often, they are not
recognized as farmers, or are excluded from land ownership and inheritance,
access to credit, fertilizer, improved seeds and extension, and control over the
food that they harvest. A baseline survey of CARE’s Pathways programme in Mali,
India, Malawi, Tanzania and Ghana, for example, showed an average of only
22 per cent of women who had access to extension services or output markets
(Njuki et al., 2013). When women were asked if they required a family member’s
permission to visit a range of public places, about half in Malawi (50 per cent) and
Tanzania (42 per cent) achieved CARE’s mobility indicator level; fewer than one in
six in all other Pathways countries were considered mobile – that is, able to travel
to markets, community meetings, social events, and health-care facilities without
permission from their husbands. On average, over 80 per cent of women always or
often must request permission to leave the house to earn money or travel outside
the village.
Inside the household, a woman’s ability to produce enough food is hampered by
competing time demands. The matching of gender to specific crops or animals and
the purpose for which agriculture is pursued (consumption vs income) eventually
impacts household nutrition (Carr, 2008). When consumption crops transition to
cash crops, household dynamics sometimes change and women can lose control
of income to pay for children’s food and health-care expenses. Increased access to
farmable land can result in greater emphasis on production activities that draw
children from schools and women from homestead gardening. Increasing women’s
access to the resources to produce, process, and market food products could increase
farm yields by 20–30 per cent, raising agricultural production in developing countries
by an estimated 2.5–4 per cent and reducing food-insecure households globally by
100–150 million people (FAO, 2011).
Finally, who makes the financial decisions and how they are made are often critical
to the nutrition of children within households. A study in Côte d’Ivoire showed that
improving a woman’s income by $10 had an equivalent impact on her children’s health
and nutrition as a $100 income increase for a man (Hoddinott and Haddad, 1995).
Interventions used by the three organizations to increase women’s decision-
making included gender dialogues, workload sharing, and Farmers’ Field and
Business Schools focused on women farmers (see Markel and Gettliffe, 2017).
CARE used the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index to measure changes in
women’s empowerment and decision-making:
The “Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index” (WEAI), launched by
IFPRI, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), and USAID’s
Feed the Future in February 2012, is the first comprehensive and standardized
measure to directly capture women’s empowerment and inclusion levels in the
agricultural sector. (IFPRI, 2012)
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VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT WITH THE EXTREMELY POOR 57
Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2 March/June 2017
Following three years of interventions, the number of women who met the WEAI
standard set by CARE more than doubled in Ghana and Tanzania, and WEAI total
scores among project participants increased an average of 14 points for Mali and
Tanzania and six points for India, Ghana, and Malawi (Brown et al., 2016).
Enabling environment
Within households and communities, gender issues are as important in the enabling
environment as they are with other drivers. Decisions pertaining to the allocation
of resources at the household level need to be determined through participation
of all family members; hence community-level gender dialogues are facilitated to
ensure that men, women, and youth are a part of the decision-making process at
the household level. In CARE’s Pathways programme in Ghana, India, Malawi, Mali,
and Tanzania, the active engagement of men and boys in gender and community
dialogues contributed to increased agricultural yields of women and the extremely
vulnerable by over 200 per cent, a cumulative $7.2 million in income gains across
participants, and more than $15 million in increased household savings, attributed
in part to the adoption of better agricultural practices through joint decision-
making. It also contributed to a total return on investment of $32 for every dollar
invested in the programme (Weatherhead et al., 2016).
The ENSURE programme in Zimbabwe utilizes care groups and men’s groups to
form and strengthen cohesive groups and resilience. Care groups promote health
and nutrition behaviours, which impact agricultural productivity, equity, and
empowerment. Men’s groups have been established as a platform where men can
discuss issues around supporting their families and following through with what
they believe a responsible father needs to do. To date, 3,514 care groups as well as
421 men’s groups with 3,596 members have been established by ENSURE (World
Vision, 2016a).
CARE’s experience with community-based adaptation shows that for every
dollar governments invest in community planning for climate resilience in
Niger, there is a return of between $3 and $4 (Vardakouilas and Nicholles, 2014).
Similarly, CARE’s work in the five countries in the Pathways project demon-
strates that focusing on the needs of women through Farmers’ Field and Business
Schools can increase women’s access to extension and information (a threefold
increase), allow women to earn more (with increased incomes of more than
$7.2 million in six countries), mobilize more land (nearly 9,000 additional acres
for women), and dramatically increase women’s decision-making in the home
(Brown et al., 2016).
With baseline figures of only 18 per cent of women in Mali and around 50 per
cent of women in Malawi, India, Ghana, and Tanzania who were able to participate
in agricultural decisions, CARE facilitated market committees constituted by
85 per cent women to increase female participation in output markets (Brown
et al., 2016). The programme has provided training in production estimation and
cost-benefit analysis and has supported market committees in developing business
plans. The result has been a 200 per cent increase in yield and revenues of more
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58 D. NORELL ET AL.
March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
than $7 million for female farmers and their businesses, as well as a dramatic
increase in women’s ability to make decisions (Brown et al., 2016: xiii–ix):
Pathways has achieved a significant increase in women’s empowerment scores
across all five countries. The mean women’s empowerment score increased an
average of 6 points for Ghana, India, and Malawi Pathways participants, and
14 points for Mali and Tanzania. Achieving empowerment (.80 or greater score)
more than doubled in Ghana (8% at Baseline to 16% at End line) and Tanzania
(20% at Baseline to 43% at End line). (Brown et al., 2016: 27)
In the World Vision Bangladesh Nabo Suchana project, women and men have
been trained to vaccinate ducks and chickens. Rural villages select the entrepreneurs
who receive training and – given their local availability and trust – more poultry
farmers are now aware of and practising vaccination, which has reduced mortality
and morbidity of the poultry. Several of these entrepreneurs are earning about
$20 on average per month, contributing to household income diversification and to
off-farm income, while the vaccinations have improved poultry health (Innovision
Consulting, 2015).
Multisectoral, holistic programming
Many food security programmes have found that integrated, multidimensional
approaches are required to enhance food security pathways. Without good health and
nutrition, for example, households are not ready to engage in value chains (Stoian
et al., 2012). Save the Children’s Nobo Jibon project in Bangladesh, for instance,
addressed disaster risk reduction, health and nutrition, market-driven production,
and income growth. As noted in the external final evaluation, the programme has
seen significant improvements, including a 28 per cent increase in monthly income
per capita, a 13 per cent decrease in food expenditure relative to total expenditure,
and a 32 per cent reduction in food insecurity (Langworthy et al., 2015). In another
Save the Children analysis, wasting (low weight for age; WHO, 2015) in children
aged six to 59 months was reduced by 38 per cent for households that were involved
in both the health/nutrition and value chain development activities, relative to a
26 per cent reduction for households involved only in health/nutrition.
ENSURE similarly promotes an integrated approach, encouraging care groups and
men’s groups to join village savings and lending associations (VSLAs). Care groups
and men’s groups receive training in village savings and lending and are encouraged
to form producer and marketing groups. This integrated approach is aimed at
increasing income levels through saving and investing in agricultural production as
well as food security, needed by most extremely poor households.
Conclusion
Case examples from CARE, Save the Children, and World Vision show that extremely
poor households can experience gains in productivity/profitability, equity, and
empowerment by addressing capacity, access, productivity, household influence,
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VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT WITH THE EXTREMELY POOR 59
Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2 March/June 2017
and the enabling environment (Brown et al., 2016). Many of these advances occur
through relatively long chains of indirect influences requiring broad initiatives.
Multisectoral programmes that include health and nutrition components are
more effective than focusing exclusively on agricultural value chains (Levinson
et al., 2015).
The enhanced VCD activities implemented by CARE, Save the Children,
and World Vision highlight key recommendations for practitioners to redesign
VCD programming to sustainably reach the extremely poor, including:
1. Focus capacity building on sustainable access to information. The most vulnerable
farmers need special support – such as lead farmers and women-focused
extension – to access information in order to be able to increase yields and
negotiate prices. Do not assume that all information channels are appropriate
for the extremely poor, especially women, and tailor interventions accordingly.
VSLAs can help extremely poor households build their productive assets and
social capital over time. Training programmes help extremely poor households
build their capacity to enter markets over time.
2. Bring markets to the poor. Design ways to reduce cost and distance between
extremely poor farmers and input suppliers, rather than assume that these
farmers can overcome barriers on their own. Some successful interventions
explored in this article include village agents, agri-kiosks, input fairs, buying
centres and agro-dealers.
3. Increase women’s influence to make decisions. Simply adding women partici-
pants to programmes is not enough. Increased production and income
must be combined with increasing women’s influence over all household
decisions. Women need to be empowered to increase their mobility, control
income, make nutrition and health choices, and have increased access to
extension.
4. Change gender norms. Women’s access and capacity need to be supported by
broader forces. Community leaders’ attitudes towards gender need to change
to allow for more equitable decision-making processes at the household level.
Men need to get involved in sharing women’s heavy labour burdens.
5. Think beyond our silo. Value chains and economic development cannot stand
alone. The poorest people face a variety of obstacles, including malnutrition,
lack of education, and poor water and sanitation, that must also be addressed
to sustain improvements in the food security indicators, such as a reduction
of stunting. VCD activities need to operate with these additional sectors
in project design or in collaboration with other public and private efforts in
these sectors.
We argue that capacity, access, productivity, household influence, enabling
environment and a multisectoral approach are essential in enhanced VCD
programming to improve food security. As practitioners, we need to utilize these
change levers in our design, implementation, and assessment of programmes with
VCD components.
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60 D. NORELL ET AL.
March/June 2017 Enterprise Development and Microfinance Vol. 28 Nos. 1–2
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... Development of market systems and value chains are marketbased approaches that are ultimately aimed for poverty reduction (The Springfield Centre 2015; Norell et al. 2017;Singh and Chudasama 2020). Value chain development provides opportunities (e.g., livelihood, enterprise and market, and policy development, Jacinto 2004; Jacinto and Pomeroy 2011) to enhance economic benefits. ...
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Market-based strategies have been used to alleviate poverty in developing countries. In the fisheries sector, knowledge on market systems is essential for market development initiatives for small- scale fishers. However, less attention has been given in understanding the dynamics of market systems and value chains. Furthermore, conducting market study on reef fisheries is challenging because of its complexity and multi- species nature. In this study, we assessed the current local marketing system of reef-sourced seafood in Lingayen Gulf, NW Philippines. We used a market analysis approach complemented with semi-structured survey in describing the market flow, in assessing the availability of reef catches, and in determining the demand patterns from the local market. The study explored opportunities that could provide advantage for small-scale fishers while supporting sustainability of reef fisheries. Results showed that different market agents were involved in the marketing of reef catches. Greater varieties of species were sold to local traders mainly because of the high dependency of fishers to suki system. A large proportion of reef catches were marketed to the locals but higher incomes were generated through direct selling of high-value species to tourists. However, the opportunity for fishers to directly sell their catch was constrained by suki system, reluctance to interact with tourists and inconsistent reef catch. A mutually beneficial partnership among key market agents complemented with government-led interventions is suggested. Potential opportunities in the tourism sector could also be tapped to support sustainable fisheries management programs.
... During the early 2000s, the development of comprehensive value chains and market systems emerged as viable alternatives for poverty alleviation in developing countries [45]. Multi-sectoral micro-enterprises may be deployed for enhancing productivity and profitability through value chains and market systems, they being important for income generation of the rural poor while playing a vital role in inclusive poverty eradication in developing countries [46][47][48]. ...
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A slew of participatory and community-demand-driven approaches have emerged in order to address the multi-dimensional nature of poverty in developing nations. The present study identifies critical factors responsible for poverty alleviation in India with the aid of fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) deployed for showcasing causal reasoning. It is through FCM-based simulations that the study evaluates the efficacy of existing poverty alleviation approaches, including community organisation based micro-financing, capability and social security, market-based and good governance. Our findings confirm, to some degree, the complementarity of various approaches to poverty alleviation that need to be implemented simultaneously for a comprehensive poverty alleviation drive. FCM-based simulations underscore the need for applying an integrated and multi-dimensional approach incorporating elements of various approaches for eradicating poverty, which happens to be a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Besides, the study offers policy implications for the design, management, and implementation of poverty eradication programmes. On the methodological front, the study enriches FCM literature in the areas of knowledge capture, sample adequacy, and robustness of the dynamic system model.
... Multi-sectoral micro enterprises can enhance the productivity and profitability through value chains and market systems (Koshy and Prasad 2007). Hence, these are perceived as important for income generation of the rural poor and are considered vital for inclusive poverty eradication in developing countries (Janda et al. 2013;Paoloni and Dumay 2015;Norell et al. 2017). ...
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Of late, various participatory and community-demand-driven approaches have been adopted to address the multi-dimensional nature of poverty in developing nations. This study identifies the critical factors for poverty alleviation in India with the aid of fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs). With FCM-based simulations, the study evaluates the efficacy of existing poverty alleviation approaches: community organisation based micro-financing, capability and social security, market-based, and good governance. Our findings confirm complementarity between various approaches of poverty alleviation. FCM-based simulations suggest a need for an integrated and multi-dimensional approach drawn from the elements of various approaches to eradicate the multi-dimensional nature of poverty. Besides, the study also offers policy implications for the design, management, and implementation of poverty eradication programmes. On the methodological front, the study enriches FCM literature in the areas of knowledge capture, sample adequacy, and robustness of the dynamic system model.
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Abstract: Market-based approaches to food security often increase agricultural productivity and income yet sometimes fail to enhance nutrition. When food security programming combines market and food systems with a specific focus on women and girls, economic and nutrition outcomes benefit. We identify distinctive and shared elements from market and food systems and highlight how they enhance nutrition outcomes when they are combined. We describe food security programming by CARE and World Vision in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, demonstrating nutrition gains in food insecure households.
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Gender-based constraints in crop value chains are important considerations for equitable and sustainable participation of men, women and the youth. Women and youth make vital contributions to the agricultural sector despite the many gender-based constraints (GBCs) they face in accessing resources. The study on which the chapter is based aimed at analysing constraints that men, women and youth face, which hinder their participation in the profitable crop value chains (CVCs). Specifically, it analysed intra-household decision-making, assets associated with gender-based constraints and socio-economic factors influencing participation in profitable CVC and determined the pathways for addressing GBC. The study adopted a cross-sectional design whereby data was collected from 594, i.e. 295 and 299, from Chamwino and Kilosa Districts, respectively. Study results show that women use more time in performing agricultural activities such as planting, harvesting and post-harvesting activities, except for post-harvesting in Chamwino. Results further show that lack of wage labour, gender norms and household responsibilities negatively and significantly (p ≤ 0.05) influence one’s participation in the CVC. Generally, an increase in income was associated with participation in the profitable nodes of the value chain. The chapter concludes that the current gender inequalities and stereo types perpetuate an ‘exploitative status quo’ which is depriving women and youth of opportunities to properly engage in the more profitable nodes of the CVC. To address the above, the study recommends the adoption of gender-transformative strategies.
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The fourth edition of the Integrating Extremely Poor Producers into Markets Field Guide (Field Guide) was prepared by Dan Norell and Margie Brand for World Vision through the USAID Office of Food for Peace Nobo Jatra (a New Beginning) Development Food Security Activity in Bangladesh. Input for the fourth edition was provided by practitioners in workshops for Southeast Asia in Bangladesh, Eastern Africa in Tanzania and Ethiopia, West Africa in Ghana, Southern Africa in Malawi and Zimbabwe, Latin America in Haiti, and several workshops in Washington, D.C. The Field Guide is intended to provide practitioners with tools to improve the food security and nutrition of extremely poor households. Some key areas of emphasis and tools in the fourth edition include: Tool 1: Nutrition-sensitive Checklist Tool 5: Village Agent Project Budget Checklist Worksheet 1: Nutrition-sensitive Value Chain and Market Analysis Worksheet Tool 6: Working with the Private Sector to Build a Village Agent Network Checklist Tool 7: Selecting a Village Agent and Training Village Agents Workshop Checklist Worksheet 22: Women’s Participation Improvement Worksheet
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In this paper we explore how a value chain framework can inform the design of interventions for achieving improved nutrition. Conceptually, there are three main channels for value chains to improve nutrition: (1) through increased consumption of nutritious foods (a demand side pathway); or (2) through increased incomes from value chain transactions (a supply side pathway) or (3) through increased nutrition value-addition in the chain transactions. These three pathways are interlinked and involve complex dynamics that are not straightforward to understand.
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Over the past decade, the value chain development approach has increasingly been adopted by governments, donors, and NGOs to reduce rural poverty. The design of related interventions often assumes that poor households: 1) have sufficient resources to effectively participate in value chain development; 2) do not face substantial trade-offs when using these resources; and 3) are able to assume higher risks when reinvesting capital and labour. However, insights from our own experiences and the literature show that these assumptions often do not reflect the realities and the needs of the poor. We argue that value chain development with poor and vulnerable populations, particularly in rural areas, requires additional conceptual frameworks, analysis, and interventions. In particular, we encourage donor agencies and development practitioners to adopt an asset-based approach to the design, implementation, and assessment of target value chains and to identify the non-market interventions needed for enabling particularly disenfranchised groups to meet the minimum asset thresholds for their successful participation in value chain initiatives.
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This article draws lessons from ACDI/VOCA, CARE, and World Vision-implemented food security programmes to answer three questions: how can push/pull activities better integrate the extremely poor into 1) output and 2) input markets? And 3) how can push/ pull programme activities help improve intra-household gender dynamics and financial decision-making to improve the food and nutrition security of household members? In output markets the lessons include: 1) that market development and savings group interventions can be implemented by the same officer; and 2) projects should move early to have a private sector provider take over the village savings and loan associations. While there are constraints in the input markets, there are also push strategies for increasing production, including direct delivery of inputs to farmers, vouchers to increase demand, and Farmer Business Group development to increase collective input buying and pull strategies such as linkages with buyers for the selling of products and tapering down subsidies. Intrahousehold gender equitable decision-making can positively impact the food security of the household members. Mixed gender Village Economic and Social Associations are efficient in tackling intra-household decision-making. This allows the provision of flexible and efficient financial services as well as an opportunity to engage husbands and wives in gender-related dialogues.
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It has been widely believed that commercialisation is the solution to food insecurity in rural Africa. Project designs have attempted to set up agricultural cooperatives and encourage entrepreneurial farmers. Yet the problems revealed in the 1950s are still widespread. In a counter-perspective, some have argued for the relevance of subsistence and low-input agriculture. This article examines three NGO projects in South and South-eastern Africa which prioritise food security through household subsistence, using low-input technologies, along with an encouragement to produce a surplus for cash. We look at what these projects share and why their strategies work.
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Making Markets More Inclusive bridges the management literature with work on agricultural value chains in developing and emerging economies. © Kevin McKague and Muhammad Siddiquee, 2014. All rights reserved.
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We use a unique data source from a rural area in northwestern Ethiopia to analyze the relationship between household/individual well-being, nutrition, and market access. We find that households residing in relatively more remote areas consume substantially less than households nearer to the market, they are more food insecure, and their school enrollment rates are lower. Although their diets are also less diverse, we find no significant differences in mother and child anthropometric measures. Part of the differences in well-being that we do observe can be attributed to lower household agricultural production in remote areas. Nonetheless agricultural production differences alone do not account for all the differences in household consumption levels for remote households. An additional contributing factor is the terms of trade for remote households that negatively affect both the size of the agricultural surplus that these households market and the quantity of food items that they purchase. Reducing transaction costs for remote households and facilitating migration could help equalize well-being among more or less favored locations.
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Improving women’s access to land is high on the agricultural policy agenda of both governmental and non-governmental agencies. Yet, the determinants and rationale of gendered access to land are not well understood. This paper argues that gender relations are more than the outcomes of negotiations within households. It explains the importance of social norms, perceptions, and formal and informal rules shaping access to land for male and female farmers at four levels: (1) the household/family, (2) the community, (3) the state, and (4) the market. The framework is applied to Ghana, using the results from qualitative field work. Norms on household and family organization and on men’s and women’s responsibilities and capabilities play a key role in gendered allocation of resources. However, these norms and perceptions are dynamic and evolve jointly with the development of markets and changes in values of inputs such as labor and land. Theoretical models that represent the gendered distribution of assets as the result of intrahousehold bargaining should be revised, and extrahousehold factors should be included. From a policy perspective, laws that ensure gender equality in terms of inheritance and a more gender-equitable distribution of property upon divorce can play a key role in improving women’s property rights. Yet, their impact may be limited where customary rights dominate and social norms and rules continue to discriminate according to gender.
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In many countries, the inability of women to negotiate pervasive social, legal, and cultural barriers inhibits their participation in the productive sphere, particularly their entry into market systems as producers and entrepreneurs. The paper draws on case studies from projects implemented by the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in Ghana, the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Institute (ECDI) in Pakistan, and Zardozi in Afghanistan to show how practitioners can maximize ‘push’ and ‘pull’ strategies to increase the scale, impact, and sustainability of women's economic empowerment programming. Despite differences in country contexts, value chains, and sectors, the authors illustrate the importance of ‘push’ strategies in helping women to overcome the persistent gender-based discrimination that undermines women's understanding of markets, access to networks, self-confidence, and business success. They also show how deliberate ‘pull’ strategies that use commercially based incentives ...