GCFSI Directors visited us

Between January 28-30, 2015, GCFSI director, Prof. Eric Crawford and deputy director, Dr. Joseph B. Dever, visited WUR to explore opportunities to expand collaboration with Wageningen University in the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) funded by US Agency for International Development in 2015-2018. During the three days visit, the directors met various WUR faculty and administrative staff and discussed possibilities of strengthening the collaboration and assessed the areas of expertise WUR can contribute to the works of the Center. They had fruitful discussion with faculty members and practitioners from the social sciences department, plant sciences department, LEI and CDI. An information session was organized by the GCFSI@WUR on Thursday the 29th where the directors explained the goals and works of the Center and gave more information and answered questions on the Second Round RFA grants. Around 20 participants from various sections of WUR were in at attendance at the session.

Seminar on Net-Mapping the Malawian Legume Sector at LUANAR!!!

GCFSI at WUR partner and one of the research team members, Mr. Noor Ali, gave a seminar on ‘Net- Mapping for the Development of Malawian legume Sector’ on November 25, 2014 at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Lilongwe, Malawi. All Postgraduate students and staff were invited to attend.

noor4 noor8 noor9

GCFSI @ WUR research in year 2 (2014) on Net-mapping the Legume Sector in Malawi Completed and submitted!!!

A scoping study under the title “INSTITUTIONAL AND POLICY CONSTRAINTS TO INNOVATION IN THE MALAWIAN LEGUME VALUE CHAINS: CURRENT STATUS AND BUSINESS ACTORS’ COORDINATION FOR INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE” was conducted by Domenico Dentoni, professor in Agribusiness Management and Strategy at Wageningen University (WU), with the support of MSc students Felix Krussmann, Mohammed Degnet and Noor Ali as part of the Global Center Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) program in Year 2. Dr. Dentoni designed the study on the basis of a proposal approved in its topic and content with GCFSI director Prof. Eric Crawford at Michigan State University (MSU) in May 2014, after discussion to complement the research of GCFSI core team partners at MSU. Under Dr. Dentoni’s supervision, research team conducted field interviews, prepared analytical outputs and field dissemination. After approval in May 2014, primary data collection was prepared and implemented in Lilongwe (Malawi) in summer 2014; data analysis in September-November 2014; dissemination to USAID Malawi and Malawian stakeholders (including Lilongwe University for Agricultural and Natural Resources, LUANAR) took place in November 2014. This scoping study contributes to the GCFSI core team’s Year 2 objective to provide scientific background that tackles the broad question: “Where and how can multipurpose legumes be scaled for sustainable intensification of maize systems and what would the potential impacts be, in the medium term, across the food system in Malawi?”
This study aims to: 1) Review the institutional and policy issues that constrain innovation in the Malawian legume value chains (including soybeans, groundnuts and pigeon pea); and to 2) Explore how business actors in the legume value chain (in this study farmers’ input suppliers, commercial farmers-support organizations, traders & processors, and commodity exchange) cooperate or compete with stakeholders to pool or access strategic resources to scale up innovation in the context of existing constraints.

By conducting and analysing 59 interviews to business value chain actors and partners, stakeholder analysis and an innovative application of value network analysis (VNA) tackled the research questions. VNA maps the strategic resources (financial, information, knowledge, hierarchy, commodity, infrastructure) that business actors’ access or pool through coordination with their existing stakeholders. Key institutional and policy issues include: 1) Uncoordinated information systems for farmers: much information reaches farmers, yet there is lack of coordination between information on inputs/extension vis-à-vis information on outputs, i.e. legume markets; 2) Weak credit and input markets for farmers: seed supply and demand is highly influenced by Government and strategic plan for upcoming years is still uncertain; 3) Poor infrastructure systems: warehouse systems grew rapidly, yet peripheral legume farming areas are still underserved and coordination between commodity exchange programs and Government-owned facilities is weak; 4) Problems with farming as business and cooperative formation: poor contract enforcement and uncertain legislation around business and trade licences and taxation favours business short-sightedness; 5) Weak public monitoring and auditing on quality standards: quality and safety standards are not monitored and enforced.
To analyse how business value chain actors in the Malawian legume initiate or join processes of institutional change that unlock potential for innovation at a large scale, this study involves two steps of data analysis:  STEP 1: Stakeholder analysis (SA) to review the institutional and policy issues that constrain innovation in the Malawian legume value chains. STEP 2: VNA to explore how business actors in the legume value chain collaborate with stakeholders to access and pool resources that scale up innovations despite the institutional and policy constraints.  The analysis of the problem map and value network map illustrates five key institutional and policy issues that constrain innovation in Malawian legume value chains. These are grouped in market constraints and supplier-buyer transaction constraints.
· Market constraints. Traders and processors receive inconsistent supply of high-quality, safe legumes relative to national and international market demand. Yet, in alternate years and geographical areas within Malawi, legume supply from farmers exceeds demand. This is due to:
1. Uncoordinated information systems for farmers; 2. Weak credit and input markets; 3. Poor infrastructure (storage, road, electricity, and ICT) systems;
· Supplier-buyer transaction constraints. Transactions between farmers and traders have high coordination costs and risks for both parties. This is due to:
4. Problems with farming as business and cooperative formation 5. Weak public monitoring and auditing on quality standards

This set of constraints (from the problem map), along with information on actors’ resources and networks (from the value network map), opens questions on why, when and how business value chain actors can recombine resources collaboratively with stakeholders to release constraints with mutual organizational benefits, and thus scaling innovations in the legume sector. We recently submitted the final report to MSU and are now waiting for their feedback.


This is the official account of Global Center for Food Systems Innovation at Wageningen University. The Students' Blog, www.gcfsiwur.wordpress.com, is attached to this account.

Posted on April 14, 2015, in News from GCFSI. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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