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   Inclusive Value Chains in India
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
08 Mar 2010
p>Market influence notwithstanding, current development processes attach great importance to market-led economic growth for poverty alleviation. With 'pro-poor growth' being the leitmotif running through much of the recent development debate, poverty alleviation is increasingly associated with small scale commercial farm and non-farm activities. A key concept is the development of value chains integrating farmers into local as well as high value markets.

The idea of 'value chain' assumes that market-led development generates the income sustaining itself. It is, however, different matter that more efficient markets drive out less competitive producers. So it is by no means clear to which proportion the rural poor will eventually benefit from value chain interventions. Value chain development is a necessary condition, but by itself not sufficient to respond to the problem of economic exclusion.

Amul is one the earliest example of effective value chain, much before 'value chain' as a concept came into vogue. Though it reaches out to over two million people and is profitable, it has not made its producers rich although it provides them with a reliable supplementary source of income. Using 14 different case studies, the author concludes that the value chains which are promoted by private for-profit businesses grew much faster than those which were promoted by nonprofit organizations.

Without doubt, value chain perspective helps to explore the growth potential of specific rural products and allows targeted interventions activating them. But the question is to what extent 'value chain development' can in fact serve as a core concept of rural development. Since some of value chain interventions are specific to particular products, markets provide the basis of a value chain strategy as it impacts short-term employment through raise in wages.

In reality, value chains may have manifold and highly differentiated effects on wages, job quality, competitiveness, distributional, and social & environmental issues. What's more, these effects are closely interlinked; improvements in one field may alter complex power relations at the local level, often deleterious in the long run. Given the long-term impacts of value chain interventions, immediate economic gains may remain ephemeral!

The book provides pragmatic insights on what works and what doesn't on a subject that is becoming increasingly important in fighting poverty in rural areas.

Inclusive Value Chains in India by Malcolm Harper, World Scientific, Exclusive Distribution in India by Books for Development, Bangalore, 289 pages, Rs 695

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
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Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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