SP D2: High-value chains, sustainability and rural development

Around 75% of the world's poor people live in rural areas of developing countries, where they directly or indirectly depend on agriculture. The agri-food system transformation is one of the mega-trends that will have profound implications for rural development. Whether poor rural households benefit from this transformation, will depend on whether they can be integrated into modern value chains in a sustainable way. In this subproject we focus on two related aspects:

First, poor households in rural areas often depend on marginal land that is prone to erosion and degradation. Degraded land suffers from low productivity and precludes households from producing high-value products. Thus, integrated soil management is a prerequisite to increasing production and income. At the same time, modern supply chains offering improved income opportunities can provide the necessary incentives and resources to make investments into soil fertility feasible. Based on a randomized controlled trial we aim to evaluate the role of extension and other supply chain incentives for promoting sustainable land management.

Secondly, poor rural households are often integrated into supply chains not as producers, but rather as wage laborers on large-scale plantations and processing facilities. These workers are often perceived as the most vulnerable actors in the supply chain due to low bargaining power and poor working conditions. Increasingly, consumers are concerned about the conditions under which their food products are produced. In response to this, sustainability standards, such as Fairtrade, have recently gained in importance. In this subproject, we are interested in evaluating the effects of sustainability standards on the welfare of wage laborers and their families in global high-value chains. The empirical research uses econometric techniques and builds on household survey data collected in selected African countries.


Possible topics for doctoral research:


  • Effects of supply chain incentives on the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices
  • Horticultural wage employment in developing countries: impact of Fairtrade certification on wages, working conditions, and women empowerment



Doctoral researchers involved:

Doctoral researchers of the first cohort:
Cristina Romero Granja
Conrad Murendo

Doctoral researchers of the second cohort:
Katharina Krumbiegel
Denise Hörner

Doctoral researchers of the third cohort:
Cansin Arslan

Principal investigators/supervisors:
Meike Wollni