Linking farmers to the market is the central of agroforestry value chains. In order to generate additional income from agroforestry an enterprise can be established only if there exists good market. By linking trees and agriculture, agroforestry enables female and male farmers to generate a diversified income from the production of a variety of agricultural products.
Tree resources can provide a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits to farmers ranging from timber to non-timber products or services. Timber resources provides diverse wood products used for furniture, construction material and source of energy. Non-timber products such as fruits and nuts, seeds, gums and resins, medicines, honey, mushrooms as well as recreational services can also be offered for sales.
Trees based products from trees grown on farms are valuable asset for additional income. So, by strengthning the agroforestry value chains a suffitient income can be provided to farmers. Therefore, this article will focus on provinding the farmers a brief practical strategic guide on tree value chains in order to develop profitable enterprises that can be scaled and establishing fair market connections.
What is Agroforestry Value Chain & it’s Aim?
A value chain is defined as the full range of activities which are required to bring a product or service from conception through different phases of production, transformation and delivery to final consumer, and eventual disposal after use.
Agroforestry systems are recognized to promote product diversification at farm level and to allow different sources of income for the farmers. Agroforestry Value Chains aims at understanding how the adoption of agroforestry practices can improve the value of farm products obtained in sustainable way.
Applying a Market System Approach
Market system approach address the root causes of why markets often fails to meet the demand of poor people. There are various market system barriers that exists. Such as under-developed markets are the main challenge for agroforestry value chains and market systems to be sustainable and successful. Sometimes adequate farming techniques exists but are in many cases not accessible to the farmers. Most agroforestry products lack connections to markets due to poorly developed policies that tend to focus on conventional agricultural methods such as monocropping.
So, in order to provide sufficient income to farmers agroforestry value chains and market systems need to become more efficient and profitable for all stakeholders with special regard to vulnerable and marginalized groups including women and by supporting smallholder farmers to organise themselves in cooperatives and organisations.
Step by Step guide on How to Identify, Priortize & Development of Tree Product Value Chains
- Conduct background & feasibility check: Conduct literature review and relevant expert consultation to understand the environment in which value chain or business can thrive and achieved by search keywords in search engine; for example tree products, tree benefits, trees of economic purpose etc. Evaluate and organize all the available material for a preferred tree product value chain. Review the material and generate subtopics. Environment understanding consist of, geographic and demographic characteristics of area, available infrastructure to support value chain, local demand and supply pattern and community livelihood options, challenges and opportunities.
- Consult target communities where tree product businesses can emerge: After gathering the information on preferred tree product (of community interest) value chain conduct discussion with female and male farmers, youths separately in order to map existing tree based business and their strengths and weaknesses.
- Involve knowledgeable experts and partners on setting up economically viable value chain: Experts can provide information on the stakeholders working on tree product value chain as well as main tree product and value chains in the area.
- Analyze information gathered on potential tree value chain: Data collected so far is to analyzed for deeper understanding of different issues of interest.
- Prioritize and reprioritize value chains applying sustainability criteria checks: Unsustainable harvesting can result in resource degradation and depletion. Therefore a sustainable restoration plan is required for products and making some key assessments such as establish whether product has government support and analyze if enterprise can attract large market share or if there is private sector interest in enterprise etc.
- Develop business plan for selected products: Business plan can be strengthened by developing strategies to obtain information by guiding business developers to address some questions such as, who are competitors?
- Identify various areas in which to intervene: When assessing where we could intervene/support the value chain, actors can review challenges associated with product value chain, assess institutional capacity to support value chain and establishing vertical and horizontal linkage necessary for effective tree-based value chain.
- Implement product business plan and build on learnings: After prioritizing a tree product business and mapping value chain actors develop an implementation plan. Regular feedback mechanism should be promoted at each planning stage to fill needed information gaps and allow adaptive management.
In order for agroforestry systems to be adopted by farmers, they need to be able they need to make livelihood from the farm. Market systems approach focuses on connecting farmers to local and regional markets. Supporting farmer organization’s can strengthen farmers’ resilience in various ways; eg. it strengthens their positions in negotiating prices, and enables them to access finance and training, input services and market information. Once we have good market then developing tree value chains strategies as mentioned above are all we need to focus on in order to start tree business at farm level