Bean commodity corridors scaling up production and market expansion for smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa

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More structured production, distribution, and trade are important in upgrading bean value chains for higher trade volumes, farmer incomes, and national revenue. A strategic intervention to achieve these goals efficiently and effectively involves the use of a commodity corridor approach. Commodity corridors are areas of bean intensification characterized by flows of products from production to consumption points. These intensification zones are characterized by significant bean activities that include production, distribution, and consumption, and are supported by vast networks of actors. Sub-Saharan African has a low and declining share in the global trade of agricultural products; hence, the continent is trying to incorporate geographic and regional trading blocs to align them with private- sector partnership programs. The aim of this policy direction is to use territorial comparative advantages to increase market power and share, and promote regional development, which ultimately can lead to country- specific economic development and poverty reduction.

In this document, we draw on data, lessons, and experiences curated over the six years when the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) implemented the bean corridor model (under the Improving Bean Production and Marketing in Africa project funded by Global Affairs Canada) to inform how a bean corridor can be conceptualized and operationalized. The conceptualization is based on economic growth approaches in the literature and inclusive business models and tools using beans as a case. We supply evidence of bean corridors that have emerged over time, benefits that arise from a functional bean corridor, and the roles of lead firms and facilitators. Here, the bean corridor is taken as a boundary-spanning tool that can bring spatially focused, and commodity-focused development approaches together to solve persistent market failures along the bean value chain.

Evidence shows that a bean corridor can emerge when there is a marketable product, for example, a preferred bean variety, and lead firm(s) and facilitator(s) to smoothen the trading process. The bean corridor then facilitates trade in large volumes of beans, stimulates public- and private- sector investments into the development of novel bean products, and increases value chain coordination efficiency. By bringing together the actors, through multi-stakeholder platforms, and harnessing information and communication technologies and digital tools, the bean corridor leads to improved market efficiency. By using the bean corridor to improve the business environment, to strengthen linkages between research and research product users (traders, processors, seed producers, farmers, etc.); and between bean farmers and buyers, and engagement with policy makers, its potential to enhance value chain efficiency (e.g., inputs and output aggregations) and ultimately to transform the largely informal ad hoc bean market to a structured bean trade has been demonstrated. This approach can find applicability in other commodities amenable to intensification driven by markets.

Birachi, E.; Rubyogo, J.C.; Abang, M.; Kalemera, S.; Fungo, R.R.; Nchanji, E.; Mukankusi, C.; Buruchara, R.; Mutua, M.; Onyango, P.

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