Training workshop on LINK and value chains for nutrition

Training workshop on LINK and value chains for nutrition

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger (ACF – Action Contre la Faim) signed a collaboration framework agreement in November 2014. This aimed at establishing a long-term formal partnership for the purposes of fostering synergies to support the respective missions of each organization.

The relationship between CIAT and ACF is based on common values and builds on the complementary skills of each organization. While CIAT’s activities are focusing on applied agricultural research and capacity building, ACF’s scope is on project implementation. ACF’s vision is of a world without hunger. Its mission is to save lives by eliminating hunger through the prevention, detection, and treatment of malnutrition, especially during and after emergency situations of conflict, war, and natural disasters.

Capacity building on LINK and Value Chain for Nutrition in Normandy, France, in September 2016

The framework agreement covers several research areas of CIAT, from integrated crop-livestock systems, through biofortification and soil management, to climate change and market access. CIAT’s Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA) Research Area, through its Linking Farmers to Markets (LFM) research team, took advantage of this agreement to organize a capacity building workshop for 40 ACF technical staff. This workshop was held in Normandy, France, in September 2016, and facilitated by CIAT researchers, namely Matthias Jäger (HQ Cali-Colombia), Brice Even (Regional Office in Vietnam) and Christine Chege (Regional Office in Kenya). ACF participants were from 22 different countries in Asia and Africa, as well as from headquarters of ACF-France, ACF-Spain, and ACF-USA.


We organized a workshop to work together on Value Chain for Nutrition aspects, which consists in including nutrition issues into value chain development. It is going beyond pure value chain development and income generation, to include nutrition lens and make the value chain nutrition sensitive.


The workshop was designed around several approaches and tools developed by the LFM team, including the LINK methodology and the Value Chain for Nutrition approach. Paying close attention to the active participation of the trainees, the workshop combined lectures and group exercises, as well as presentations of case studies from on-going CIAT projects.


“I am expecting the training participants to gain fuller insight into the value chain concept, approaches, and tools to better support value chain development in ACF’s countries of intervention, as well as to contribute to the establishment of a network amongst the training participants in order to exchange experience related to value chain development.”

Victor Kiaya

Food Security and Livelihoods Programme Advisor for Asia, ACF France

“I am expecting to learn how to strategize and develop value chain programs in ACF’s food security and livelihood interventions that are nutrition sensitive.”

Suresh Murugesu

Technical Coordinator in the Philippines, ACF

Intervening on value chains for both producers and consumers

After facilitators asked and reviewed expectations from participants, they provided them with an overview of value chain concepts and approaches, and the different ways to design development projects. This was followed by some concrete examples of nutrition-sensitive value chain development projects, including the “Making Value Chains Work for Food and Nutrition Security of Vulnerable Populations” in Kenya and Uganda. The particularity of this project is to use value chain analysis to design an intervention benefiting both rural and urban poor; resulting in a win-win situation, improving the diets of vulnerable rural and urban consumers through increased consumption of more affordable, diverse, safe, and nutrient-dense processed bean-based food products, sourced from local farmer organizations and delivered by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Ag2Nut Cal

Making Value Chains Work for Food and Nutrition Security

Identifying the wide range of bottlenecks existing along food value chains enables researchers and practitioners to address the needs of different types of actors within these chains. Therefore, malnutrition levels and food consumption behaviors of the poor, nutrient leakages and critical points of contamination, processing technologies, willingness and capacity of private sector to engage with smallholders to produce more nutritious food, among others were taken into account to design a multi-stakeholders project. This way of looking at food systems with both economic- and nutrition-lenses particularly caught the attention of the ACF audience, becoming aware that value chain interventions can have nutrition outcomes for poor people, beyond the usual income generation for producers.

Using LINK to design interventions with value chain stakeholders

In parallel to the presentation of these case studies, participants were introduced to the LINK methodology and the way to use it to design interventions. The participants were divided in five groups, and asked to apply the methodology to five different cases: dairy in Nicaragua, goat in Nepal, apple in Bangladesh, and horticulture in Nicaragua and Sierra Leone. Following the four steps of the LINK methodology, participants mapped the aforesaid value chains and identified specific business models within these chains in order to analyze and assess them according to inclusion principles.


Using these preliminary analyses as inputs, ACF participants were asked to do role-plays, acting as value chain actors. They simulated a discussion between buyers and sellers and tried to reach an agreement to design improved business models, toward more inclusiveness. CIAT trainers insisted on the need for ACF staff to act as enablers and to develop their skills to facilitate grounded dialogue between different kinds of value chain actors, and beyond within the food systems.

Strengthening synergies and identifying opportunities for further collaboration

The workshop ended up with a review of the opportunities for joint projects between ACF and CIAT, trying to identify existing projects and upcoming calls for proposal where strategies of both organizations can converge. Given the strong emphasis of ACF’s activities on crisis and post-crisis situations, one of the important issues raised during the discussion was the need to work with targeted populations beyond the recovery stage, and get ready to be active in value chain development processes, in order to build and, later on, to sustainably grow to fully benefit from the outcomes of a value chain intervention. Discussion is engaged and will continue in the following months to foster this promising collaboration between CIAT and ACF.


The LINK Methodology was developed as part of the New Business Models for Sustainable Trading Relationships Project, managed by the Sustainable Food Lab in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Rainforest Alliance (RA) with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) has supported further development of the toolkit with international NGOs in Latin America, including CRS, VECO and Heifer International.

The authors of this blog:

Brice Even

Brice Even

Market access specialist

Matthias Jäger

Matthias Jäger

Scientist, Linking Farmers to Markets (CIAT)

Christine Chege

Christine Chege

PDF: Nutritionist, (CIAT-Kenya)