Women cleaning and sorting cashew nuts in a factory in Burkina Faso.
When the demand for cashew nuts soared world-wide in 2016, large numbers of women working in cashew processing in Burkina Faso lost their jobs.
Photo: Jörg Böthling


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According to a World Bank survey, supermarkets will be selling between 30 and 50 per cent of all food by 2050. Smallholders are being encouraged to integrate themselves in value chains in order to benefit from this development. But can this work, and if so, how? The Centre for Rural Development has examined this question and taken a closer look at some of the usual preconceptions.

A survey by the relief and development organisation Oxfam demonstrates that smallholders receive just 7 per cent of the final price in global agricultural value chains, whereas 51 per cent is retained by marketing and distribution. How can an export market be created that ensures fair and secure sale of produce from smallholder farms? Or should smallholders generally stay well clear of this kind of marketing? These were two of the questions discussed at the “Entwicklungspolitische Diskussionstage” of the Centre for Rural Development (SLE) in Berlin/Germany in late May.

Differentiated view required

First of all, there is no such thing as THE value chain. Are staple foods or cash crops distributed via the value chains? Are local, regional or international markets being supplied with goods? It can be accordingly easy or difficult for smallholders to participate in value chains or to benefit from them. And the risks this entails can differ correspondingly.

Nevertheless, tendencies can definitely be recognised, as Sabine Brüntrup-Seidemann demonstrated in Berlin.

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