The Quiet Staple Food Value Chain Revolution

Video | 10 December 2012

A new ADB-funded book charts the startling changes in food supply chains in three Asian countries. Rice mills, cold storage facilities and other modern infrastructure mean Asia's food supply chains are rapidly evolving. Farmers now have more control over what they produce and to whom they sell, and consumers have year-round access to staple food at lower prices.


Title: The Quiet Staple Food Value Chain Revolution

Description: An ADB funded-book charts the startling changes in food supply chains in three Asian countries.

VO: In 2009 and 2010, agriculture experts Thomas Reardon and Kevin Chen and Bart Minten, Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, conducted a survey among 3,500 people involved in rice and potato cultivation in 3 countries: China, Bangladesh and India.

The interviews shattered myths in the agriculture sector in those Asian countries. 

SOT: Kevin Chen
Author, “The Quiet Revolution in Staple Food Value Chains”
From those interviews we observed a structural change along the value chain in those countries. We term those changes, “Quiet Revolution.”

VO: Chen and Reardon along with Minten and the Asian Development Bank’s Agriculture Specialist Lourdes Adriano wrote about the groundbreaking results in a book called “The Quiet Revolution in Staple Food Value Chains.”

ADB played a key role in the endeavor by funding the survey as well as the book itself.

The book’s title emerged from the authors’ findings that staple food supply chains throughout Asia have been dramatically transformed.

SOT: Thomas Reardon
Author, “The Quiet Revolution in Staple Food Value Chains”
There’s an assumption that those supply chains of food and especially those post farm gate segments are sleepy, stagnant, traditional, not transforming, small scale, using outdated technologies when in fact what we found in our studies is that in fact, these supply chains are dynamic, rapidly transforming and in fact, we called it the Quiet Revolution.”

VO: This Quiet Revolution includes changes happening in the post-farm gate segment and in the supply and retail chain, such as:

Supply chains now stretch across countries. This means farmers are not just supplying staple food to their villages.

Nearly half of the food prices paid by Asian consumers is made up of the post farm-gate segment, therefore processors, millers, traders and retailers now play an important role in  food security.

Rice mills or cold stores purchase directly from farmers and then sell to agents and to wholesale markets who then sell to supermarkets. Thus the number of parties involved is going down, leading to a more efficient supply chain system.

And, farmers, aided by the use of fertilizers, insecticides and mechanization have become mini entrepreneurs who sell their products in rural and urban outlets.

VO: The authors conclude that the government and the private sector have to extend the successes to non-dynamic areas in order to make sure that this Quiet Revolution continues to take place across Asia.