The cycle begins with selecting a chain on the basis of socioeconomic and environmental criteria. Those value chains are selected that offer the greatest potential for poor people. After a thorough analysis, the information needed for developing a Competitiveness Framework Agreement is obtained, which defines the interventions to be carried out with different “links” of the value chain. In cooperation with selected partners, sustainable mechanisms are developed that enable the target groups to expand their business activities and increase their income. Typical measures are training of the workforce, technical advice to improve production methods (often in connection with international standards and certifications) or the strengthening of corporate governance, quality management and customer relations. The results and impact of these are evaluated through a monitoring system whose feedback includes new input to update the agreement, leading to a new cycle.
The following figure illustrates the value chain concept developed by Swisscontact. The providers of inputs, primary producers, processers and sellers are all situated in the centre block. They interact with support services (financial and non-financial) and the different institutions (governmental or non-governmental) that regulate the framework in which agro-food chains operate.
This process takes place at the local, national or international level.
Access to financing: Partnerships with financers and buyers facilitated improved financial conditions for producers.
Certifications were another mechanism that helped ensure more inclusiveness in coffee and cashew chains, through obtaining organic seals and other internationally recognised certifications. These ensure environmentally and socially responsible production, and better international prices and other incentives.
Research and innovation were also undertaken, including the validation of genetic material that can withstand conditions related to climate change (in cacao and cashews). Private investors also co-financed clonal gardens and nurseries. Innovations were made in coffee production through soil analysis and the development of personalised formulas (which are also more economical), and through co-financing solar dryers, wet coffee processing plants and quality control laboratories.