Supporting Pro-Poor Berry Value Chains In Bosnia And Herzegovina

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Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the world’s largest producers of raspberries. Oxfam has been implementing a pilot project that explores how poor smallholder farmers – especially women farmers – can benefit by participating in raspberry production. The project has worked to adapt raspberry growing practices in favour of poorer smallholder farmers, and to support the development of stronger and more inclusive farmer organizations. This case study sets out some initial lessons and recommendations arising from the pilot project. This learning case study is part of a series of eight papers relating to Oxfam's economic justice programme in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe, with a focus on collective action.
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  OXFAM CASE STUDY JULY 2015 www.oxfam.org.uk  Women producers harvest ripe raspberries, Bosnia and Herzegovina. © Oxfam   SUPPORTING PRO-POOR BERRY VALUE CHAINS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the world’s largest producers of raspberries. Oxfam has been implementing a pilot project that explores how poor smallholder farmers  –  especially women farmers  –  can benefit by participating in raspberry production. The project has worked to adapt raspberry growing practices in favour of poorer smallholder farmers, and to support the development of stronger and more inclusive farmer organizations. This case study sets out some initial lessons and recommendations arising from the pilot project.  2 INTRODUCTION In 2014 Oxfam in Bosnia and Herzegovina was selected by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to implement the ‘ Pro- Poor Value Chain Development’ pilot project. The 10-month pilot project was designed to test the hypothesis that poor farmers can successfully participate in value chains producing and marketing berries, through their involvement in stronger farmers’ organizations and fairer commercial relations with the private sector. At the same time, the project aims to build the capacity of government actors involved in the implementation of similar development interventions to ensure the change resulting from the pilot project is sustainable. The pilot project seeks to: 1. Maximize the inclusion of smallholder farmers and vulnerable rural people (particularly unemployed young people and women-headed households) in the berry value chain; 2. Work with inclusive farmer organizations which demonstrate willingness and capacity to absorb increased numbers of (poor) smallholders, and are able to support market access for their products; and 3. Work with private sector actors involved in berry value chains. The pilot seeks to show that directly targeting poor farmers and including them in existing (and more efficient) value chains is feasible. This is especially important in a middle-income, fragile country like Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a misconception exists within some development communities that a ‘ trickle-down ’  approach (which is the theory that economic benefits provided to businesses and upper income levels will indirectly benefit poorer members of society) will result in a tangible impact on the poor and more vulnerable segments of rural communities.   3  ABOUT OXFAM’S PROGRAMME Bosnia and Herzegovina has an overall national poverty rate of about 20 percent 1 . However, there are dispersed and remote ‘pockets’ where poverty rates are much higher. Poverty is characterized by the social exclusion of certain ethnic and religious minorities and internally displaced people and returnees, and a lack of access to basic services. The project target area comprised the three municipalities of Maglaj, Zavidovići and Žepče . Farmers typically cultivate small plots of land (less than 0.5 hectares). Poverty analysis found very high levels of poverty and unemployment in these areas, and a majority of the population in these areas is vulnerable to falling back into poverty. The berry sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina is strongly export-oriented. Berries account for over 50 percent of the total exports in the fruit and vegetables sector and raspberries account for over 75 percent of total berry exports 2 . Bosnia and Herzegovina is the 11 th  largest producer of raspberries in the world 3 , producing more than 10,000 tons in 2014 4 . The berry value chain has developed around the country and thousands of producers are already involved in berry production. Women typically play an active role on berry farms  –  planting, weeding, harvesting and sorting. Men usually manage the overall business of the farm. While cooperatives often consider women to have participated in training and meetings in equal measure to men, women’s decision -making power at the farm level is often limited. During the diagnostic assessments at the beginning of the project, fewer women attended the farmers’ workshops . When interviewed, women generally could not provide the same level of information relating to the business aspects of farming as men. Because of this, Oxfam decided to make more explicit efforts to include women in the project activities and to build women’s knowledge and confidence to participate in discussions and decision-making within their households and farmer organizations.  As part of the pilot, the project team undertook a thorough value chain analysis using a ‘ pro-poor  ’  lens. This aimed to identify the ways in which the berry value chain would need to be adapted in order to benefit poorer and more marginalized groups of farmers. The analysis found that value chain actors were not directly addressing the ‘ pro-poor  ’  agenda. This, despite a number of value chain development interventions had been developed to directly improve the livelihoods of the more vulnerable actors in the chain, and to improve their equity. In other words, inclusion of the poor in the value chain to date has happened only by chance, not because of the planned effort. None of the value chain members had specific activities or interventions  4 aimed at including the poor in the value chain. The analysis also found that the berries business model was characterized by: ã  Production restricted to one industrial berry variety (with a harvesting season of just 45 days); ã  Emphasis on sales of frozen raspberries (98 percent of raspberries are exported frozen), resulting in the value chain being concentrated on a single distribution channel; ã  Low yields in the target area.  Adopting a ‘ pro-poor  ’  approach meant selecting f  armers’ organizations using criteria from a purposefully designed scorecard, which analysed the FOs based on their practices related to membership, landholding size, market channels established, services & incentives and general assessment. It required the project team to identify which of the challenges in the value chain were most critical with regards to poverty alleviation, women ’s  empowerment and improved opportunities for young people. The pilot project was designed by Oxfam with the following aims: ã  To e nhance farmer organizations’ collective marketing efforts; ã  To i ncrease farmer organizations’ outreach to smallholder farmers and landless poor people in the target areas; ã  To s trengthen the identification of value chain actors’ needs  and the coordination of the delivery of technical assistance, training and other services; and ã  To identify the package of investments needed to strengthen competitiveness within the berry value chain, and enhance the marketing of products. The pilot aims to target 1,370 farmers, with 70 percent of total investments supported through the value chain targeting poor farmers directly. Additionally, 200 indirect beneficiaries involved in berry production would benefit from investment in a larger cold-storage facility, co-financed through a public-private partnership facilitated under the pilot. The pilot is projected to have the following medium-term impacts within the berry value chain in Central Bosnia and Herzegovina: ã  The inclusion of new farmers in the berry value chain, targeting poorer and more vulnerable farmers for inclusion; ã  Yields increased by more than 20 percent for existing farmers; ã  Farmers receive higher prices for raspberries; ã  Increased total raspberry output over the next two years; ã  Extension of the harvesting season from 45 to 135 days through the inclusion of new berry varieties; ã  The introduction of three new distribution channels, resulting in improved profitability for value chain actors.
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