Dragon Fruit Info
REGIONAL NETWORKING TO ENHANCE TROPICAL FRUIT VALUE CHAIN FOR SMALLHOLDER FARMERS
Quarantine and Marketing
Networks, regional and international, have been used as a vehicle to improve smallholder integration in the tropical fruit value chain. The synergies created by the different agencies, institutions, private sector and experts have shown to enhance productivity and market access for smallholders through identifying gaps, recommend interventions and facilitate the enabling factors in the tropical fruit value chain. For networks to sustain, there has to be good communications among members-member satisfaction to be considered, financial sustainability, a proper strategic plan and related activities to illustrate that regional networks can contribute to improving smallholder’s livelihood through value chain integration.
value chain integration, smallholders, quality, market access, agricultural networks, capacity building
Tropical fruits are important both from the nutritional and income generation standpoint, hence it can boost local economies. They are reasonably inexpensive and provide vitamins and minerals for human wellbeing and food security. Tropical fruits are also another export option for producers in order to diversify export of agricultural produce. It has been estimated that there will be an uptrend in the demand for tropical fruits in domestic and export markets, especially from consuming countries such as USA, EU and Japan. This includes the major tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes, pineapples, avocadoes and papayas.
Banana is the major tropical fruit with an estimated world production in 2011 of 183.0
million tonnes. Excluding bananas, world production of tropical fruits increased from
64.0 million tonnes in 2002 to 95.0 million tonnes in 2011. Mango was the main fruit produced accounting for almost 40 percent of total production followed by pineapple at 25 percent, papaya at 10 percent and avocado 4 percent. Other minor tropical fruits such as durian, rambutan, litchi, guava, and mangosteen made up about 20 percent of total tropical fruit production. Asia remains the main producer of tropical fruits, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Oceania. It is estimated that 90 percent of the fruits produced are consumed domestically with only an estimated 5 percent traded as fresh fruits and another 5 percent are processed products.
It has been reported that more than 70 percent of tropical fruit growers are smallholders which operate their farm commercially either as individuals, group farming or cooperatives.
Fruit Value Chain
The common challenges faced by tropical fruit producers include lack of appropriate production technologies, pests and diseases outbreaks which is an indirect effect of climate change, postharvest management, food quality and safety management, certification, seasonality and market access. Generally it pertains to the total value chain, including the lack of enabling factors such as credit facilities and appropriate policies. There have also been efforts to improve productivity and market access through enhancing the value chain.
The tropical fruit value chain is defined as the series of activities from production to consumer, which is linked and supported by the roles of actors and the overall enabling factors that supports the activities and make the chain work. Enhancing the value chain requires specific interventions after identifying gaps along the chain, such as the improving the infrastructure, providing better logistic, better technologies, capacity building and credit facilities and easier market access. Interventions and recommendations to improve value chains have to be conducted with committed participation from the relevant actors in the chain and enablers which are indirectly related to the chain.
To enhance the value chains in agriculture, the four key components are infrastructure development, knowledge sharing, transfer of appropriate technologies and appropriate policies need to be coordinated to help farmers meet the challenges of sustainable production and marketability of the products.
Network on Tropical Fruit and Agriculture
Networks can be defined as groups or entities that cooperate to complement each other, overcome common problems in order to achieve collective efficiency in productivity. Networks can also be formal and informal, sometimes a combination of both. The main role of regional and international networks in agriculture is to initiate cooperation among stakeholders and members. It is an effective way to improve existing practices, by harnessing the combined expertise to focus on prioritized issues and to provide assistance in alleviating them. Regional networks which have been established for some time to address agricultural related issues include CAB International, CIRDAP, AARDO, BAPNet, Bioversity International and TFNet.
Some regional networks have almost the same members and similar objectives, which makes collaboration even more attractive, since activities and resources can be shared. Table 1 summarises some of the key issues along the tropical fruit value chain that have been regularly discussed and included in the proposed or planned activities of regional networks. The network activities can also be as a result of studies conducted by a funding program. The results from the activities are expected to formulate recommendations for implementation.
Table 1: Common agricultural value chain issues in smallholder tropical fruit production and network activities
Common value chain issues
Identifying gaps for intervention
Conduct studies to determine efficiency of chainwith guide from expert members and inputs from surveys or secondary information – normally conducted through
workshops and the
Lack of market access and information
Create centralised web based database withinformation provided by members.
Encourage private sector especially distributorsand retailers to be part of the network to source direct from growers.
Capacity building on products’ quality attributesand good agricultural practice from advanced members and experts.
Network assists in marketing and promotion of
product by working with other networks.
Workshops to come up with innovative ways toenhance market capacity.
Lack of appropriate production technologies including:
post harvest losses pest and disease management
higher percentage of quality products extending the season for seasonal fruits
Sharing and transfer of technology and
information among network members through capacity building programs such as training, workshops, seminars, farm visits and study visits.
Introduction and sharing of inputs or including
suitable cultivars and equipment from members.
Deputize expert members from network to assistaffected members.
Project formulation and implementation fornetwork members with assistance from advanced members.
Joint collaboration with other networks.
Inappropriate policies and lack of enabling environment
Exchange on information among members onformulation and implementation of policies – can be discussed in workshops.
Propose projects to improve infrastructure withfunding from donors.
Lack of farmers institution
Share experiences with members on policies thatcan initiate formation of cooperatives or farmers groups.
The global network responsible for tropical fruit development is International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet). The need for a coordinated international effort to develop the global tropical fruit development through collaboration and information sharing is a key to the establishment of a global network such as International Tropical Fruits Network or TFNet. The global network was established under the auspices of FAO of the UN in 2000, to develop the industry in relation to production, consumption and trade. The network also looks at issues currently affecting growers particularly smallholders especially in developing countries. Main activities of the network include knowledge sharing, collaborative projects, capacity building and information dissemination.
Currently the network comprises 14 country members (Australia, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Vietnam), 15 associate members comprising industry players, international organisations and institutions such as CAB International, Bioversity International, CIRDAP, AARDO, and more than 150 ordinary members. Besides this, a list of experts in various fields of agriculture and tropical fruit development are accessible for reference or contributions. TFNet engages known experts in the various fields of tropical fruit development, agriculture and other related fields, to conduct its activities - with the objective of promoting good production practices and improve value chain performance in member countries, and other stakeholders.
Examples of activities conducted to enhance tropical fruit value chain are:
a. Study visits and training – example of training on fruit processing in Indonesia
with network partner Sentra Pengembangan Agribisnes Terpadu (SPAT). SPAT is an Indonesian based private training institute whose main activities are producing processed agricultural produce and training. With the existing network, a series of training sessions have been conducted for participants from Fiji, Malaysia and India. The use of the vacuum fry machine to produce fruit chips was also introduced through this collaboration with this company.
b. Information on new technologies and updates on tropical fruit development
shared through website, newsfeed and social media. Members are encouraged to contribute articles and to provide information on the website.
c. Awareness campaign and projects to address serious threats to the industry – this
is currently being conducted to address the threat of the banana wilt disease caused by Fusarium sp TR4. This is involves collaboration amount network partners such as the Banana Asia Pacific Network (BAPNet) and research institutions in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
d. Various workshops addressing common issues involving experts from network of
country members, institutions, private sector and individuals. The workshops are normally focussed on key issues affecting tropical fruit production, postharvest management, pest and disease management and market access.
e. Information by tropical fruit development by network members are also shared through conferences, symposiums and seminars.
Collaborative efforts among members of networks create synergies which are
beneficial for smallholder farmers through value chain enhancements. However, the networks can only be effective if there is full commitment for cooperation among members and stakeholders alike. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) can sometimes provide a stable environment for cooperation. Funding of the network is also an important issue that requires strategic plans and related activities that can financially sustain the network. To keep the network relevant and maintain member satisfaction, there has to be regular communication among network members to keep them updated, informed and convinced that regional networks are beneficial in achieving their goals on enhancing the tropical fruit value chain and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
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