Trading up: How a value chain approach can benefit the rural poor

Research reports and studies
December 2009
Jonathan Mitchell, Christopher Coles and Jodie Keane

In recent years, Latin America has moved rapidly towards liberalising trade, both in the region and internationally. This has stimulated active debate on the merits of a more open trading regime. Getting lost in this polarised debate is an understanding of the impact of changes in the trade regime on marginalised groups, particularly the rural poor. This report examines how value chain analysis can, in a practical way, help the rural poor participate gainfully in local, regional and global trade, by:

  • Identifying what orthodox trade theory tells us about the link between trade and poverty and explaining how and why value chains have emerged as a helpful entry point for discussions on rural poverty;
  • Summarising what we know about the constraints faced by low-income participants in agriculture in Latin America;
  • Developing a framework which outlines how the rural poor can upgrade their position within viable value chains; and
  • Pulling together the theoretical perspectives, practitioner studies and the upgrading framework to learn lessons about how to use value chain analysis and development effectively as a tool to augment the incomes of poor people in rural areas sustainably.

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