Agricultural Value Chains for Development

Date: June 2013
Type: Papers and Briefs
Agriculture and natural resources; Evaluation
Series: Learning Lessons


Designing projects and programs supporting the engagement of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in increasingly dynamic, but complex agricultural value chains are becoming more challenging as market requirements and lifestyles change, and government policies shift. Yet, rising demand for safe, high-value, and differentiated agricultural products is creating unprecedented opportunities for them to participate in value chains to reduce costs, increase revenue and bargaining power, and improve access to technology, information, and capital.

Government interest in the potential for value chains to develop agriculture and contribute to food security has been rising since 2008’s global food crisis. Agricultural value chains, when the poor and other marginal groups participate in them, also hold considerable promise for helping reduce poverty and promoting inclusive growth. But under the right conditions, value chains can move smallholder farmers from subsistence into commercial agriculture.

Amid the emerging importance of value chains and the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) renewed focus on agriculture, an evaluation study was undertaken to assess ADB’s support for commercial agriculture during 2001–2009 (IED 2012). In the period reviewed, ADB approved $5.4 billion for 86 loan operations for agriculture and natural resources; 53 had components supporting commercial agriculture. The evaluation includes four country case studies: Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), and Nepal.

A key objective of the evaluation was to generate findings, lessons, and recommendations for ADB’s future support for agricultural value chains, particularly on improving project designs and removing barriers to the participation of the poor. This Learning Lessons focuses on crucial lessons for effective value chains based on ADB’s support and experience in this area.