Making Regional Value Chains – institutional layering in the horticulture sector in Namibia`s periphery

Authors: Carolin Hulke*, University of Cologne
Topics: Economic Geography, Agricultural Geography, Africa
Keywords: Regional value chains, horticulture, institutional layering, collective action, Namibia
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 12
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Regional Value Chains (RVC) present production and consumption systems with regional rather than direct global reach. While Global Value Chain (GVC) approaches stand in the spotlight of development policy approaches, RVCs represent promising alternatives in areas where linkages to global markets are largely absent. Nonetheless, we know little about the conditions under which RVCs evolve, as most studies analyse either established sectors and thus already consolidated RVCs, or their linkages to GVCs. Namibia presents a case in which the state seeks to promote RVCs via multiple facilitating and regulatory initiatives in order to counteract socio-economic inequalities. Such top-down initiatives, however, do not automatically translate into beneficial development outcomes, especially in peripheral rural regions. This article disentangles the interplay of top-down initiatives and local institutions to decrease socio-economic inequalities through RVCs. Using qualitative data from field research in 2018/19, we analyse different mechanisms that either enable or constrain RVC consolidation at different scales. Findings reveal that the institutional layering of uncoordinated policies destabilises RVC formation, while endogenous collective actions of regional producers facilitate links to regional markets. We conclude that for a RVC to take off and consolidate into a formalised regional economic network, knowledge creation and access at production and marketing segments is crucial to building a bridge between farmers and distributors. Such immanently grown regional institutions need to convert with government initiatives that provide targeted support of these endogenous attempts. The nuanced analysis of institutional layering sheds light on the making of RVCs for rural economic development.

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