Global Agricultural Production Systems (G.A.P.S.)

Global Agricultural Production Systems



Project Coordinator:
Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer

Research Cluster:
Decent Work along Agricultural Value Chains

Project's aims:
Focusing on social and political obstacles to innovation for small farmers/producers in agricultural value chains


The concept of production systems (value chains) has gained traction in many fields. The social dimension, however, has received so far little attention. Most of the research has focused on the issue of economic upgrading. As important as economic upgrading is, it does not guarantee better living and working conditions for many working in the production system. Better value capture might not be distributed to smallholders, farmworkers or workers in distribution and processing.

Hence, economic upgrading has to be complemented by social upgrading. Social upgrading is about enhancing the protection and rights of workers with positive spillover effects for their dependents and communities. The ICDD network will contribute to the research on the possibilities for social upgrading by making use of its multidisciplinary character, bringing together various strands of the global agricultural production systems analysis. The network will mobilize expertise concerning the production process from the perspective of agricultural science as well as mechanical engineering for agriculture, the local context for innovations (sociology), the power dimensions as the nodal points of the production systems (political science), the management of supply chains (management science), and the international political and market conditions (international political economy).

This research area extends the partnership between the University of Kassel (including DITSL, Witzenhausen), the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai and Guwahati), the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Egerton University, and the University of Cape Coast. With the commencement of the second funded period GAPS incorporates new smaller projects into the network, while supporting the existing ones. In this way the GAPS research agenda enlarges its cooperation network with time.


Main research question: How and what interventions can overcome the social and political obstacles to improve the mango value chains system in Pakistan and Ghana?

Contact: Dr. Mubashir Mehdi

Project's aim: The aim of the project is to identify the social and political issues that inhibit the performance of horticultural enterprises along the mango value chain and devise a framework that can guide the commercial operators and policymakers to create an environment for decent work.
Pakistan has a great potential for horticulture crops due to variety in land and compatible climate conditions. Mango is one of the main fruit crop that has a wide range of commercially grown viable varieties and have great potential for high-end value markets. An adequate development has been taking place to improve the mango value chain system under various international projects over the period of the last ten years. However, there is little evidence of building a more profitable and sustainable model of value chain both in the domestic and international markets. One of the obvious reasons is the existence of poor production and marketing systems dominated by the middlemen that create a social and political obstacle to motivate the growers for a more value oriented approach. There is a need to delineate these social and political bottlenecks in order to devise an effective value chain framework that can improve the performance of enterprises all along the chain.

Main research question: Income generation for the rural community by developing and commercialization of need-based solar food processing technologies for value addition of food products in developing countries.

Contact: Dr. Anjum Munir

Project's aim: This project aims at the research on innovative solar-based technologies for food processing and value addition of agricultural products to improve the living standards of small entrepreneurs and rural communities by improving their income generation. The agro-climatic conditions of Pakistan and Kenya ranging from tropical to temperate allow the growing of 40 different kinds of vegetables and 21 types of fruits. At present, the area under fruits and vegetables is 4,3% of the total cropped area, with the total production of 10.992 million tons in Pakistan. The major factors limiting an increase in area and production need high investment with low returns to the growers. Due to a lack of processing facilities, the farmers have to sell their products at very low prices. A significant amount of these products are spoiled due to a lack of farm gate processing facilities. Furthermore, Pakistan is the sixth greatest milk-producing country in the world, but due to a lack of awareness and  appropriate technologies in rural areas, thousand of tons of fresh milk are spoiled. Besides, pasteurized milk is not available to the rural community, causing adverse effects on their health. The promotion of small-scale agro-based industries for value addition and income generation using innovative solar technologies can become a multiplier in rural development.

This project focuses on the development and commercialization of solar food processing technologies viz. solar-assisted milk pasteurizer, solar-based mobile milk chiller, solar dryer for dehydration of fruits (apple slices, apricot, mango, palm dates etc.), vegetables and other perishable products, solar roaster for roasting of coffee, groundnuts, pine nuts etc. and solar cooker for community kitchen applications.

Main Research Question: How are the cashew processing units globally interconnected? How can the decent work deficits be identified?

Contact: Dr. Varsha Ayyar

Project’s aim: Map the global value chain in cashew processing units and identify its decent work deficit in India (Goa and Maharashtra). Further aims are to map the cashew nut value chain from its raw form to its processing and onwards; to map the international supply chain for cashew nuts; to identify the relationships between all the members of the chain; identifying decent work deficits and devising strategies to counter those deficits.
Cashew processing is a highly labour-intensive industry. One of the unique features of this industry is that more than 90 percent of workers are women and they belong to historically socially disadvantaged sections of the Indian society such as Dalits and other similar classes. The proposed study aims at mapping the global value chain and identifying decent work deficits, and working towards enhancing labour standards in these units through policy advocacy. The study is limited to the State of Maharashtra and Goa, which are among the largest cashew nut producers/processors in the country.

This project has an interdisciplinary character, coordinated by researchers of UADY in collaboration with different NGOs and the government to achieve food security and sovereignty through the strengthening of social capital. The specific objectives are: to promote collaboration strategies between stakeholders in the region related to food security and sovereignty; to establish a collaborative network for production and commercialization through the implementation of solidarity market; to contribute to training and education on human nutrition and agro-ecological technologies to rural inhabitants in Southern Yucatan. Expected results from the project are that after three years there will be a base for regional sustainable development of the Southern region of Yucatan through the collaboration and coordination of all institutions involved having as a major component agricultural products that will contribute to improving food security of rural communities. In all the process, graduate and undergraduate students from UADY will be involved.

Project's aims: This research project investigates labor relations in melon production of the Açu-Mossoró highlighting the quality of jobs created directly by the company and the family farmers; addresses the value-added at each link in the production chain of melon produced in the Region, including working information on the cost of labor in the final price of the exported product and the contribution of work in different production models; evaluate the impact of changes in the international conjuncture and the Brazilian exchange rate in terms of employment, workers' remuneration and its contribution to cost of production.

Main Research Question: Have the needs and governance of the mango value chain operators and how these influence the organizational structures and the performance of the mango industry in Kenya been analyzed?

Project’s aims:

1. To map the pre-investment component (source of planting material, variety, knowledge sharing, cost-benefit analysis, and farmer organization and farmer education) of the mango value chain in Makueni and Kwale Counties, Kenya.

2. To characterize the investment options (planting, weeding, crop protection, harvesting- mechanical/manual) available to mango farmers in Kenya.

3. To determine product handling (cleaning, sorting, grading, packaging, labeling and storage) and transformation (primary/secondary) practices by mango value chain actors in Kenya.

4. To analyze the role of marketing/trading (Power dynamics- promotion, transportation, and commodity exchange) and consumer preferences in the mango value chain in Kenya.

5. To understand the relationships between the mango value chain actors in Kenya.

6. To identify decent work deficits in the mango sector, diagnose the symptoms and causes, and then suggest measures to enhance labor standards in the sector through dialogue and policy advocacy.


GAPS Conferences:


Public Talks by Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer:

  • "Addressing the Decent Work Deficit in Agricultural Value Chains", UCC, 9 April 2018
  • "Power Relations within Global Production Networks", Natal, 14 March 2018
  • "Power Relations within Global Production Networks", Harare, 16 January 2018