German Institute for Development Evaluation

Agricultural value chains (concluded)

In many countries, particularly in Africa, agriculture is the most important economic sector and is therefore seen as the key to economic development. But worldwide, the agricultural sector is faced with great challenges: a growing world population, new consumption habits, the demand for bioenergy as well as the overexploitation of natural resources and the impacts of climate change will continue in future to influence the world’s food supply as well as the livelihoods of producers particularly in developing countries. Many smallholder farmers suffer from limited access to inputs such as land, seed and fertilisers as well as financial services, extension services and innovations. Their low competitiveness and weak integration in the agricultural markets lead to a situation where the great existing potential for broad-impact growth and food security are not sufficiently exploited.

The supporting of agricultural value chains addresses these challenges by lending support to the competitiveness of smallholder farmersand promoting processing and trade to create jobs and to increase value added in the country.

Agricultural value chains have been specifically supported by German development cooperation for some years now. This is reflected among other things in the current approaches of the BMZ special initiative “One World, No Hunger”, in which the promotion of innovations in the agricultural sector and the supporting of value chains form central elements.

Objectives of the evaluation

In spite of its increasing importance, there have so far been few evaluations or studies that have dealt with the impact of systematic supporting of agricultural value chains, in particular with regard to poverty reduction and food security. The evaluation is intended to help close this gap and with its results support the strategic orientation of BMZ in the core theme of agriculture / rural development. Furthermore, informed findings with respect to the potentials and limitations of supporting agricultural value chains for poverty reduction and food security are also relevant for the elaboration of strategies and development approaches in partner organisations and other donor institutions, especially in the case study countries.

Time schedule

The evaluation process started with an analysis of the entire portfolio of projects supporting agricultural value chains. This review served to distinguish different approaches and activities from each other and to identify an overarching theory of change based on specific fields of action. In the course of expert interviews, additional information about causal interdependencies and relevant framework conditions was obtained. Subsequently case studies in Burkina Faso and Ghana allowed analyzing different value chains first-hand (cashew, maize, pineapple, rice) and provided a structured comparison regarding interdependencies, relevant framework conditions and effects on target group level. Therefore, the case studies allowed not only answering the question of "whether" but "how" and "why" activities had an effect. A document and literature analysis completed the data collection.

The data collection was completed in May 2015, followed by a period of analysis and synthesis. Currently, the evaluation report is being drafted, whose publication is scheduled for spring 2016.

As at: December 2015