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Thursday, July 13 • 16:30 - 17:00
3083 Embracing the Complexity: Multiple Interests and Debated Resolutions in the Pineapple Value Chain in Uganda

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Strengthening horticultural value chains can be used for improving food and nutrition security while reducing rural poverty. However, the complexity of local situations challenges the effectiveness of development strategies and calls for actor-oriented approaches. The fresh pineapple value chain in Uganda is illustrative of such a complex situation. The market supply is not organized though dominating and organizing lead firms. By contrast, individually negotiated and context specific actor relationships and their purposeful activities form and sustain this human activity system. As value chain actors take multiple factors for their business activities into account, the aim of our system analysis is to elicit their perspectives on the influence of these factors. This provides a more contextualized understanding to inclusively increase local actors’ benefits.

We used a systems learning approach, in which stakeholders and scientists seek a better understanding of the local system. Cognitive mapping and additional methods were applied to reveal internally hold perceptions about the factors and their influences on the income generation from engaging in the pineapple value chain. Several meetings with participants from only one actor group informed subsequent multi-actor meetings: five with farmers (4-8 each), one with brokers (5) and five with traders (2-6 each). Group cognitive maps served as starting point for twelve meetings which included participants from several actor groups (4-13 each). To foster the feeling of connectedness between actors along the chain, these consecutive multi-actor meetings evolved around the factors and situations that participants had identified as influential to all actor groups, such as prices, markets, quality and communication. The facilitation of the entire process was constantly adapted to encourage participation. Semi-structured interviews and participant observation further complemented the analysis.

The approach resulted in a contextualized picture of how multiple natural, technical and social factors influenced actors’ income generation in the pineapple value chain, e.g. farm and market price, market size, quality, seasonality, production methods and skills, buyer-seller relationships and transportation. There was little disagreement about the rationale of the influence of factors during the single actor group meetings. However, the number of factors and their cause-effect relations differed between actor groups. The dialogue during multi-actor meetings revealed problem-situations in the value chain. Participants expressed solutions and also explained barriers to them. For all actors in the chain to profit from their respective business activities, awareness of prices and other market information is particularly important. However, problematic communication patterns between actors showed current challenges and dissatisfactions. The flow of information was disrupted by the intertwined patterns of changes in prices, supply and demand, along with structural constellations, such as many small-scale farmers, relatively few brokers linking production areas to distant market centers and many, dispersed traders in different markets. Moreover, prices were individually negotiated and generally competitively formed. The occurring fragmentation among actors is the result and also part of the causes for communication problems, observed fluctuations and actor relations. In addition, the debate regarding proposed solutions, such as collective bargaining or establishing uniform prices, showed that this fragmenting feedback cycle is difficult for actors to break when contextual constraints and their conflicting interests are taken into consideration.

The participatory activities and shared explanations allowed the surfacing of problematic patterns and value chain structures that caused friction and hindered broader collaboration. The approach helped to trigger dialogue and understanding between otherwise often competing market actors. While actors are aware of the benefits from improved collaboration, this is difficult to implement given a contextualized system understanding. Participatory system inquiries are challenging, yet important for enabling actor-driven system change.

Thursday July 13, 2017 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
3rd Floor, Room SR 121, Institut für Computertechnik,TU Wien Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Wien, Austria

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