Creating Resilient Value
Chains for Smallholder

Lead Author
Gordon Conway
Imperial College London

Contributing Authors
Ousmane Badiane
Katrin Glatzel
International Food Policy Research Institute

Erik Chavez
Samrat Singh
Imperial College London


Value chains can provide greater value and opportunities, arising from increased production and income, for African smallholder livelihoods.


In addition to benefits, smallholder farmers may also face risks, many of which are outside their control. They include the consequences of climate change, of land degradation, of the damages caused by pests, diseases and weeds, financial crises, post-harvest losses, and of the price volatility of agricultural products.


The losses incurred in Africa may total many billions of US dollars. For individual farm families, the consequences may be increasing hunger and poverty and, in extreme situations, total loss of their farms and their livelihoods, leading to destitution.


Smallholder resilience can be analyzed and measured in terms of the response of the farmer’s development pathway to stress or shock. The pathway may be little or non-affected, may fall and recover, may fall to a new lower pathway, or the pathway may collapse altogether.


Few, if any, magic bullets exist that improve resilience. Instead, the solution lies in integrated approaches, such as integrated soil management, integrated pest management and climate smart agriculture, integrated insurance and integrated storage. Such integrated approaches comprise complementary technological, economic, social or political responses.


The resilience of whole value chains depends on the sustainability of each component of the chain and the nature of the links between the components.