Research Paper 12, June 2007

Changes in the Governance of Global Value Chains of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Opportunities and Challenges for Producers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Horticultural trade, especially fresh fruits and vegetables from Sub-Saharan African to European market, has received a great deal of attention over the past decade due to the rapid and sustained growth of its exports to Europe. This impressive growth has undoubtedly contributed to increased national incomes and has reduced rural poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Good examples in this respect are Kenya, South Africa and, to some extent, Zimbabwe.

Despite this growth, the inclusion and proportion of the rent obtained from this lucrative business for smallholder farmers, who in the past used to be the major players, have been worsening over the span of the horticultural trade. One of the major contributing factors is the recent changes and dynamism of the global governance of fresh fruits and vegetables value chain.

The changes of governance of global value chains for FFV from the market based coordination to the explicit vertically integrated coordination, coupled with other factors such as stringent phytosanitary measures, private standards like EurepGAP, and the increased consumers’ demand and choices, have led to the exclusion of smallholder farmers in the value chain because of their failure to comply with different requirements and standards. This poses a potential threat to the efforts of addressing chronic poverty and well being of the rural poor in the region.

Thus, the purpose and scope of this paper were: to investigate, compile and analyze concrete evidence regarding the nature of changes in the governance of fresh fruits and vegetables value chain and their causes; to identify the opportunities and challenges stemming from these changes and what determine success and failure in the new future governance and architecture; to see how the competitive advantage of FFV producers is affected by the changes in the governance of FFV value chains; to discuss the implication of the changes for the aspirations of economic diversification of commodity dependent developing countries.

Finally, the paper provides recommendations on copping mechanisms, private sector strategies, and public policy responses that would enable developing countries’ producers, taking into account ownership and equity considerations, to appropriate a fair share of the rents in the FFV value chains.


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