Browse by Theme: Value Chains

Two recent CARE workshops have helped frame for me the resilience discussion that has come to dominate development discourse over the last five years. In fragile contexts, can we afford to be ambitious with our programming goals to encompass both gender transformative action and crisis adaptation? And more to the point, can we afford not to?

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Last month I visited Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, to interview farmers and livestock traders faced with the drought effects of one of the most devastating El Niños in 50 years. What are their coping strategies in the face of extreme weather patterns? How are those strategies linked to national and international market systems? And how, through these systems, can we bring about a better deal for those in the supply chain typically made more vulnerable by drought – namely, women?

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Megan Gaventa writes: As I took part in CARE’s recent roundtable discussion, ‘Invisible Women in Global Value Chains: A Missed Opportunity?’, I couldn’t help but feel that the event was timely. Not just because it was part of CARE’s 70th anniversary celebrations. The excitement surrounding the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals – and their standalone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment – was still fresh in the mind. Recent weeks had also brought the under-representation of women in business, politics and other spheres into the spotlight, as Elle’s photoshopped images of world leaders reminded us how far there is to go.

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The private sector is a main actor involved in women’s economic empowerment in rural value chains: large traders, retailers or manufacturers often hold the keys to improving women’s access to extension services, financial services, input provision, market information and technology. They also have the negotiating power to help put gender equality on the agenda of producers’ associations and cooperatives.

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How can we make sure that in a developing country that is economically and socially dependent on a single commodity, this becomes a development driver rather than a curse?

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When I arrived in Yasubi, a small and industrious village in the Okapa district of the Papua New Guinea highlands, I could see that most of the services we normally take for granted – like electricity, running water, accessible roads – were absent. Most of the hard-working, coffee-producing families live in traditional round huts, with smoke from a wood fire rising through the grass roof so that, from outside, the structure looks like some huge vegetable just pulled out of a pot of hot water.

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Many of us dream of a world free from poverty, but how can this be realistically achieved, especially for smallholder farmers who make up the majority of the world’s poor?

One important answer to this question is found in our new book, Making markets more inclusive: Lessons from CARE and the future of sustainability in agricultural value chain development. In it, we highlight lessons from one of the most intensely developed agricultural value chain initiatives in the world: CARE’s work in the dairy value chain in northwest Bangladesh.

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