Tools for Value Chain Assessments: What Tools to Use When to Assess the Entire Value Chain?

With the increased interest in value chains in developing countries over the past two decades, it is not surprising that there has been a proliferation of tools developed for assessing value chains. Several CGIAR centers, along with other partners, have developed a variety of tools to assess constraints to value chain development and ways to foster inclusive growth.

However, the proliferation of value chain assessment tools can also make it unclear which tool to use in what situation.  In this post, which is partially based on Donovan et al. (2015)[1], we try to make clear some of the tradeoffs in using tools that target the entire value chain.

We focus specifically on five specific value chain tools: PMCA, developed by CIP; LINK, developed by CIAT; 5 Capitals, developed by ICRAF; the Livestock and Fish toolkit, developed by ILRI; and the Value Links 2.0 methodology, developed by GIZ. These tools are all meant to be used in assessing whole value chains; this list is not nearly exhaustive, as many other tools exist. Additional tools, also developed by the CGIAR, can also be used to assess specific concepts within value chains.

We first consider how various tools select value chains (Table 1).  Several of these tools pre-select a value chain; for example, LINK works with local stakeholders to select a value chain, whereas Value Links 2.0 works with external experts.  For assessment, the various tools differ in the amount of emphasis they place on data collection for various aspects of the value chain (at the household or producer level; the business or middleman level; the end market level; and service providers, who provide inputs or finance).  Note that none of these tools really collect intrahousehold-level data; for that, another tool, such as the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index, might be used. 

Table 1. Value Chain Selection and Data Collection

TOOL

 

Data Collection

Chain

Household

Businesses

Markets

Service Providers

PMCA

Pre-Selected

Limited

High

High

Limited

LINK

Local Stakeholders

High

High

Moderate

Moderate

5 Capitals

Pre-Selected

High

High

Moderate

Limited

Livestock and Fish

Constrained to Livestock/Fish

High

High

Limited

Moderate

Value Links 2.0

External Experts

Moderate

Moderate

High

Moderate

 

If you are deciding what tool to use in a specific value chain assessment, this table can help you determine which tool might be most appropriate. For example, if a specific chain has not been identified, then LINK might be most appropriate.  If, on the other hand, a value chain related to livestock products is being targeted, the Livestock and Fish tool might be most appropriate.

Second, many tools continue to evolve as specific concepts are becoming more prominent in the international development dialogue. Specifically, the role of gender in value chains, nutrition-sensitive value chains, and the environmental sustainability of value chains are all important to consider in planning interventions.  Table 2 notes whether each tool has a module that covers gender, nutrition, or environmental sustainability.

Table 2. Presence of Gender, Nutrition, Environmental Sustainability Modules, by Tool

TOOL

Gender

Nutrition

Environmental Sustainability

PMCA

Yes

No

Some through market orientation materials

LINK

Yes

No

No

Five Capitals

Some, but no explicit module

No

Some

Livestock and Fish

Yes

No

No

Value Links 2.0

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Lastly, some of these tools are still actively being developed and modified, whereas others (e.g. Five Capitals) are not. So if you are planning to use one or more, it is worth contacting the relevant institutions to learn whether updates are available.

Any questions or comments?  Please contact the PIM value chain team!

 

[1] Jason Donovan, Steven Franzel, Marcelo Cunha, Amos Gyau, Dagmar Mithöfer, (2015) "Guides for value chain development: a comparative review", Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Vol. 5 Issue: 1, pp.2-23, https://doi.org/10.1108/JADEE-07-2013-0025