Dubbed ‘making the connection: value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture’, the conference will bring together more than 400 participants, including private sector, government officials, development partners, civil society, farmer organizations and academics, to share experiences on value chain development and discuss how best smallholder farmers can be incorporated into value chains in order to promote agricultural and rural development.
The conference will focus on strengthening agricultural value chains that enable smallholders to become more actively engaged in market-led agriculture: transforming the role of the smallholder into that of an entrepreneur. The meeting aims to identify the conditions necessary to create a broader and more solid knowledge base for the promotion of sustainable value chains, including training and information-sharing needs. It also seeks to provide an opportunity to exchange current ideas, knowledge, new approaches and best practices in order to both strengthen the efficiency and profitability of existing commercial value chains and assist those working to promote value chain development in order to strengthen economic growth in smallholder communities. Participants will also discuss issues related to trends impacting on value chain development, innovation, sustainability and scaling up, and capacity building.
It is envisaged that participants will develop a shared understanding of the role of value chains in promoting sustainable and inclusive agricultural and rural development, and of the potential for existing best practices to be scaled up. Experts hope to develop a greater understanding of the factors necessary for value chains to thrive, such as finance and investment, ICTs, and improved farmer-buyer linkages, with particular emphasis on small and medium enterprises. Strategies to further promote knowledge sharing and exchange of experiences on value chain development will be outlined.
The value chain concept is relatively new in agriculture but has repercussions for smallholder farmers who form the majority of the farming capital in developing countries, yet often seem left out of the growing value chain trend. The meeting will address how best smallholders can be included in such chains. There is an agreement in this field that interventions have to be demand-led and that the private sector plays a central role in all value chains.
By reducing some of the market risks and enhancing farmer incomes, value chains can attract businesses such as input suppliers, machinery hire services and banks to rural areas, as well as others seeking to profit from greater rural affluence. To date there has been no attempt to provide space for discussion among value chain actors such as the private sector, the donor community, governments, civil society and others to fully explore the issues related to value chain development and to share experiences. The conference will attempt to provide such a forum.