Guides for Value Chain Development: A Comparative Review

This report presents the results of a review of 11 guides for value chain development (VCD). The review compares the  concepts and methods endorsed and assesses the strengths and limitations of the guides for steering development practice. Overall, the guides provide a useful framework for understanding markets and engaging with chain stakeholders, with a strong emphasis on strengthening institutions and achieving sustainability of interventions. However, the guides often lack discussion of the conditions necessary at different levels for VCD to advance development objectives and achieve sustainability. The guides are designed to be implemented largely independently of the specific context, in which the chain is situated, despite the major implications context has for the design of interventions and overall success of the chain. Attention to mutual learning, whether related to tool design or the outcomes and impacts of VCD interventions, is limited. More critical reflection and debate is needed on the design of guides for VCD.

We suggest three areas for this reflection and debate:

1) concepts, methods and tools for addressing the needs of the poor in value chains

2) tools for deepening analysis and addressing variations in the context

3) mechanisms for mutual learning on the design and implementation of VCD.

The report concludes with various recommendations for guide authors and donors that support VCD.

Author (Core team):