Getting to “Good Enough” in Product Upgrading: SDCAsia and the Cardava Banana Value Chain, 2009

    This case study looks at SDCAsia's "good enough" approach to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in the banana chip value chain in the Philippines - a choice to promote feasible upgrades and incremental improvements in agricultural practices that resulted in the largest possible increases in yields and profits (i.e., picking and choosing parts of GAP, rather than attempting to achieve full GAP certification for all value chain participants).

    The study describes the lessons and experiences of SDCAsia in facilitating productivity gains the banana chip value chain in the Philippines, by improving and aligning practices related to food safety and quality standards in the industry. It also provides guidance to practitioners looking to replicate this strategy in their projects. The project was funded by an implementation grant from USAID.

    SDCAsia took a "good enough" approach to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), choosing to promote upgrades and improvements to those practices most likely to increase yields and profits, rather than attempting to achieve full GAP certification for all value chain participants.

    Specific objectives of the program included:
    - Enhancing the capability of local government units to design and/or implement better plans and/or policies for efficient and high-impact support of the banana industry;
    - Facilitating the increase and stabilization of the supply of cardava banana for the chips industry through improved quality and productivity of cardava farms, including diversification to organic/all-natural bananas;
    - Facilitating the set-up of an infrastructure for a value chain quality system that covered aspects of food safety standards and traceability;
    - Facilitating the improvement of existing inter-firm cooperation as a means of enhancing levels of information, innovation, upgrading, and compliance with market requirements and standards; and
    - Strengthening support markets to provide the services and products that would facilitate the upgrading of value chain players, parallel to the development of systems, to ensure sustained access.

    In one such intervention, SDCAsia used innovative means such as comics and best-practice competitions to improve market information in the value chain. Through such participatory methods, the report states, stakeholders gained a greater sense of ownership over the standards. The activities in question were deemed successful in lowering transaction costs.

    Summary of results
    According to the report, 'The average income of cardava producers in the assisted areas has seen a 73 percent increase. This increase is about seven times that of the control group. As of June 2009, the monthly producer income from cardava was about $55, higher than the $39 computed in the second half of 2008. The sum is also considerably higher than the $27 monthly income of the control group. Incremental "good enough" GAP compliance resulted in an average annual productivity increase of 24 percent.' The "good enough" approach is thus considered to have been successful, and worthy of replication.