Eastern and southern Africa agriculture value chain learning hub:Market needs study
In an effort to better understand agriculture value chains market needs in relation to CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) learning hubs, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) conducted a market needs study to assess the current situation and find any possible common ground between the East and southern Africa (ESA) PIM learning hub and the needs and expectations of key actors in the market.
The PIM hubs seek to build capacity, develop robust evidence and learn effectively in ways that influence decision‐making and contribute to improved outcomes for the poor through better programs, policies, investments and businesses. To obtain the necessary information on barriers and facilitators of functional agriculture value chains, several key informants (KIs) from different types of organizations active in the field of value chains, namely international and local non‐governmental organizations (NGOs), private companies, academic institutions and government institutions, were invited to share their experiences and opinions on value chain assessment, diagnosis or analysis, value chain development, upgrading and interventions and monitoring and evaluation of value chains, including interventions or market information systems.
A total of 19 in depth interviews were conducted, either in person or via Skype, which form the basis for the discussion presented in this paper. While 19 respondents do not make for a representative sample, the information obtained gave enough insight to open doors to new discussions or to take into consideration when setting up priorities when it comes to the hub. The interview questions ranged from reviewing the organizations’ existing and desired capacities, to different approaches and tools they use when it comes to value chains, the challenges they are facing and the solutions they feel are best to address these challenges. In addition, hub‐specific questions were included as well, to try and obtain insights into the perceptions of the KIs when it comes to the possibility of actively participating in the ESA PIM learning hub.
The results showed that while the interviewed organizations are actively working in the aforementioned three components that this qualitative research set out to investigate, they reported a need for increased capacity, especially when it comes to monitoring and evaluation. The learning hub, suggested as a possible solution to address these issues, was received positively, especially if it aims and turns into a space where different actors can come together to share their approaches, lessons learned, best practices and experiences. The research, while qualitative in nature, also opens the doors and gives ideas for future quantitative and more detailed research on several ideas and concepts presented by the KIs, such as ways of bringing value chain actors together, the type of contents they would find most suitable, usability of specific tools and approaches on a wider scale etc.