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Tropical farmer still has a lot to learn

15.05.2007
Food producers in developing countries still need to make many improvements before they can compete effectively on the world market. This is the conclusion from researchers at Wageningen University after their 4-year study.

They studied similar production chains in various tropical areas and recorded their findings in a book: ´Tropical food chains, Governance regimes for quality management’. This book was presented at Wageningen University on 12 April 2007.

A lot has to happen to a pineapple before it reaches us in the shop. How does the product reach the client in an optimal manner? How can the costs be kept to a minimum? How can maximum quality be achieved? What is a reasonable payment for each producer in the chain? A good coordination between the different partners within a production chain is vitally important. The book considers these various factors.

Three parallel PhD projects of the NWO Division for research into sustainable development (WOTRO) formed the body of the research. Emma Kambewa investigated fish production in the Kenyan Lake Victoria. Guillermo Zúñiga-Arias studied fruit export in Costa Rica. Hualiang Lu examined the production of fresh vegetables in the Chinese province Jiangsu. Kambewa gained her doctorate on 11 April and the other two will do so later this year. Other postdocs and PhDs investigated pineapple in the Ivory Coast, pork in China, peppers in Costa Rica, dairy products in Ethiopia, cacao in Ghana and cashew nuts in India.

Quality

The Wageningen researchers compared all production chains and determined the strong and weak points of these. From the study into Chinese pork production, it emerged that a more integrated government policy ensures a better quality control. The Indian cashew nuts studies demonstrated that short-term thinking by the buyers and producers led to a reduction in quality and competition. The interest of national institutes for quality control emerged from the Ivory Coast pineapple study. Yet the Ghanaian research revealed that institutes can also hinder quality improvement.

Gains can still be made in various areas, such as an improved coordination of prices, clearer codes of conduct, better understanding of the market, risk management, and cooperation between small producers. In subsequent studies, the Wageningen researchers want to investigate these interests per chain and find out which findings from these studies can be applied to other chains.

Jacques Trienekens | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOA_725BM4_Eng

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