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

The concept of production systems (value chains) has gained tract 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 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 small holders, farm workers 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 University of Cape Coast. With the commencement of the second funded period GAPS incorporates new smaller projects to the network, while supporting the existing ones. In this way the GAPS research agenda enlarges its cooperation network with time.

The G.A.P.S. project interconnects the following sub-projects:

Supply chain governance: A decent work approach to optimize the mango value chain system (2015 - )

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: <link mail>Dr. Mubashir Mehdi

Project's aim: The aim of the project is to identify the social and political issues that inhibit to improve the performance of horticultural enterprises along the mango value chain and devise a framework that can guide the commercial operators and policy makers to create environment for decent work.
Pakistan has a great potential for horticulture crop 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 the various international project over the period of last ten years. However, there is little evidence of building 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 system dominated by the middle men that create social and political obstacle to motivate the growers for 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.

Income generation using solar based food processing technologies for rural community (2015 - )

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

Contact: <link mail>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 produced to improve the living standards of small entrepreneurs and rural community 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 tons of fresh milk are spoiled. Besides, pasteurized milk is not available to the rural community, causing adverse effects to 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, ground nuts, pine nuts etc. and solar cooker for community kitchen applications.

Under the umbrella of ICDD project, it is an excellent opportunity to have south – south cooperation between Pakistan and Kenya and with a significant contribution from University of Kassel, Germany, the optimum parameters involved in the fabrication and operation of solar food processing technologies will be investigated. This research work will be the part of newly created “solar food processing network” where interested parties like members of ISES (The International Solar Energy Society and Simply Solar and Solare Brücke) from all over the world will gather at platform under ICDD Platform for collaborative work during summer schools and ICDD meetings held at University of Kassel, Germany. Former research projects from the Agri-Engineering Department of Kassel University as well as from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (ICDD and DAAD) have shown this new approach easily generates small scale enterprises. Experienced researchers from Germany, Pakistan and Kenya will develop this idea and adapt the need based technologies for their home countries especially a step forward to income generation for the rural community. The decentralized solar food processing technologies will create jobs in the rural areas and therefore keeps people on the countryside instead of further urbanization. New scientific results will be obtained which will enable high level international publications.

Mapping the Global Value Chain of Cashew Nut Processing Units (2015 - )

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

Contact: <link mail>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 per cent of workers are women and they belong to historically socially disadvantaged section 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.

Agrodiversity, agricultural value chains and decent work in rural areas of Yucatan (2015- )

In 2012 the Ministry of Social Development of the Yucatan State initiated the Program of Social Family Agricultural Production (PSFAP) in the 20 poorest municipalities of the state. In 2014 the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatan and the Ministry of Social Development of the State Government established the Program of Local Agencies for Human Development with participation of locals, NGOs, the academia and other governmental agencies.  Its goal is to contribute to decrease rural poverty in the 20 poorest municipalities through coordinated actions of organizations working in the area and the active participation of the communities in order to warranty human rights in these localities.
Agrodiversity must be seeing as an integral part of landscapes, which must contribute to the achievement of food security, nutrition and family income in rural communities of Yucatan, as well as to the conservation and sustainable use of the genetic diversity of cultivated plants, domesticated animals, of their wild relatives. A strategy to commercialize in Mérida the surplus agricultural products from participating communities is being developed with Puntos Verdes, a local NGO.
New policies are required to implement and grant decent work criteria along the agricultural value chains and provide secured and regular access of smallholder producers. This represents an opportunity and a challenge to develop local strategies that revalue agriculture as a job-creating activity for policymakers.
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 improve food security of rural communities. In all the process, graduate and undergraduate students from UADY will be involved.

Structural Aspects of the Melon Production Chain Produced in Brazilian Northeastern Semiarid Region (2015 - )

The Açú-Mossoro in Northeast Brazil annually produces 250,000 tons of melons, with approximately 80% of this total is exported to European traders. Production is carried out for about just over 20 producers, who are organized as follows: a cooperative of small producers (COODAP); a cooperative of medium producers (COPYFRUTAS); plus a large company. The private company is considered the largest melons producer in the world, with 20,000 hectares of fruits, employing 6000 workers and contributing for 70% of the region's exports.
The 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 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; evaluates 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.

Pilot Study of Small Tea Growers in India: Issues of the Value Chain and Decent Work (2016 - )

Main Research Questions:How do small tea growers (STGs) organise land, capital, labour and work? Are they following similar or diverse pattern? How are the STGs getting organised in order to promote their interest and address the problems? What factors do STGs consider while setting the price and quantity to be supplied and what role does market play? How and in what ways do the STGs add value in the tea production? What are the working conditions of these small tea growers in different spheres of decent work such as social protection and social dialogue?

Project’s aim: Small growers are more vulnerable as compared to large plantation workers. Their vulnerability persists in terms of organizing and bargaining over price setting. The study aims at looking at the various issues within the decent work domain especially in terms of social dialogue, access to social protection and other basic work and employment opportunities. Reducing costs of production for small growers would also lead to increase in productivity. Therefore the study aims at establishing the linkages between value chain and decent work.
What is the role of the state and how can small tea growers influence the state to provide for other cost reducing activities such as social protection, health facilities, sanitation and prevention of disease, better housing etc.?
This research will explore the value chain of tea. There have been some studies that have followed the manufacture of tea in the large sector to the markets abroad. We should stress here that though the price of tea in the national market has been rising (India is also the largest consumer of tea) and the export sector too is expanding, tea plantation workers are the lowest paid not just in the plantation sector (tea, coffee, rubber, cinchona, cardamom) but also in the formal sector in general. Processed tea, manufactured in the plantations or local factories are either sent to the auction centers (Guwahati, Siliguri, and Kolkata for Eastern India). The large tea marketing companies buy from there. It is believed that cartelization of buyers in the auctions do not allow tea prices to rise even though there may be high demand. The cartels comprising a handful of big buyers (most are MNCs) thus buy tea at lower prices and sell at much higher prices after packaging the product. We will study this process in order to understand why the producers get less for their product.
If larger plantations are victims of cartelization, small growers are even more vulnerable. If Bought Leaf Factories, like the other producers, get low prices, they will buy green leaves from small growers at lower rates. The small grower too will cut down on labor costs in order to cut down costs of production. This will have an impact on the living conditions of small growers and the labor engaged in these plantations. We need to look at these issues within the ambit of decent work, not merely in terms of wages and living conditions but in other spheres as well such as social dialogue for easing their tensions (what is the role of the state and how can small growers influence the state to provide for other cost reducing activities such as social protection, health facilities, sanitation and prevention of disease, better housing etc.) These would help reducing costs of production for small growers and would also lead to increasing in productivity. We can thus see that the value chain and decent work are closely linked.

A Decent work approach to optimize Mango Value chain Governance in Kenya (2017- )

Main Research Questions: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.

Project Coordinator

<link mail>Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer