Commodity associations: a tool for supply chain development?
Commodity associations are here defined as organizations that bring together a wide spectrum of interest groups related to a particular commodity or sector (such as horticulture) in a particular country, whether the commodity is for export, for the domestic market or for both. Such associations can draw membership from individual farmers or their associations, from crop buyers, processors, distributors and exporters, as well as from suppliers of support services. Sometimes government agencies are also members. Drawing on a literature review and case studies of relevant associations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the paper explores the role of commodity associations in improving supply chain performance. Particular attention is paid to "inter-professional" associations, a concept first developed in France. These draw their membership from associations representing each activity, or "profession", of the chain. Commodity associations can play an important role as a focal point for policy dialogue with government but they also have many other functions, including arbitration and regulation, setting or advising on grades and standards, promotion of trademarks or quality signs, support to research, export and domestic market promotion, and provision of information and statistics. The paper also touches on the concept of "value chain roundtables", which may be considered a first step towards full chain association development. The paper should be of interest to associations representing individual stages of a commodity chain that see merit in promoting associations with wider chain representation. Policy-makers interested in creating an appropriate enabling environment for such associations to flourish should also find the paper to be of value, as should chambers of commerce. There have been significant donor efforts to promote commodity associations recently and donor organizations may therefore also find the paper to be of use.
AGS main series:
Agricultural Management, Marketing and Finance Occasional Papers