DEPOCEN Working Paper Series
Dao The Anh, Russell IW, Collins RJ, Hoang Thanh Tung, King CA, Wandschneider TS, 2012. "Guidelines for value chain development and linking farmers to markets in the uplands of Vietnam"
Value chain development involving small holders is currently promoted as a mechanism for promoting rural development generally, harnessing market forces for improving the livelihood of the poor. There is a growing trend for agricultural development projects to incorporate market linkages, in order to avoid the pitfalls of development efforts driven primarily by technology transfer, production increase or unsustainable institutions propped up by project structures. The market provides a solid basis for economic growth and thus a substantial prop for development. Nonetheless, there remain many challenges for linking poor farmers to markets and ensuring that the resulting changes retain a pro-poor orientation. These challenges are acute in a country like Vietnam, undergoing profound economic and social transitions. This is particularly the case in the upland regions, where the terrain, remoteness, ethnic diversity, unstable marketing networks, lack of support policy and socio-economic disadvantage pose so many additional challenges for poor farmers. The interplay of market forces and the development aims of government agencies and NGOs are not necessarily arranged on a common course. In the face of rapidly accumulating experience with these phenomena around the world and growing expertise within Vietnam, this paper provides a review of international and Vietnam based experiences, focused on the uplands. The paper centres on a set of research questions designed to support an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research project implemented in 2009 in the north-west highlands of Vietnam. The project deals mostly with ethnic minorities. The review is augmented by an analysis of project participants' experience with linking poor farmers to markets in Vietnam. Can value chains shaped by pro-poor intervention achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development when the results are dependent on market outcomes? What are the alternative approaches for linking poor farmers to markets? What factors contribute to the success or failure of these alternative approaches? What common and upland Vietnam specific experience with pro-poor value chain development can guide projects to improve market linkages for the uplands of North-West Vietnam? What are the policies necessary from local government to support value chain development? The paper addresses these questions and reveals evidence of corporate social responsibility in the emergent properties of agricultural value chains.
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