Quality Improvement in African Food Supply Chains: Determinants of Farmer Performance

  • Delelegne Abera Tefera
  • Jos BijmanEmail author
  • Maja Slingerland
  • Gerben van der Velde
  • Onno Omta
Original Article


The integration of smallholders in modern value chains in sub-Saharan Africa is an important pathway for improving income and farmer livelihoods. Connected to demographic shifts, rapid urbanization, and the emergence of a middle class, there is a demand for higher product quality. In order to access these modern markets, smallholders need to enhance the quality of their products. However, factors that determine smallholders’ decision to invest in quality upgrading are not well understood. Using cross-sectional data from the Ethiopian barley sector, we analyse the factors that explain smallholders’ decision to improve quality. We find that socioeconomic, institutional and market factors affect the decision to improve quality. Our study contributes to the understanding of the determinants of quality upgrading at the micro-level of the economics of quality production, and thus of rural development.


Quality-upgrading Economics of quality Institutional arrangement Smallholders Malt barley Ethiopia 


L’intégration des petits exploitants dans les chaînes de valeur modernes en Afrique subsaharienne est un moyen important d’améliorer les revenus et les moyens de subsistance des agriculteurs. Liée aux changements démographiques, à l’urbanisation galopante et à l’émergence d’une classe moyenne, il existe une demande pour une qualité de produit supérieure. Les petits exploitants doivent améliorer la qualité de leurs produits pour accéder aux marchés alimentaires modernes, mais les facteurs qui déterminent leur décision d’investir dans l’amélioration de la qualité ne sont pas bien compris. À l’aide de données transversales issues de la chaîne de valeur de l’orge malté éthiopienne, nous analysons les facteurs qui expliquent la décision des petits exploitants d’améliorer la qualité. Nous développons également un nouveau cadre conceptuel pour étudier l’amélioration de la qualité au niveau de la ferme. Nos résultats montrent que les facteurs socioéconomiques, institutionnels et commerciaux influent sur la décision du petit exploitant d'améliorer la qualité du produit. Les résultats ont un certain nombre de conséquences politiques.



  1. Abate, G., Bernard, T. 2017. Farmers’ Quality Assessment of Their Crops and Its Impact on Commercialization Behavior: A Field Experiment in Ethopia (IFPRI Discussion Paper 1624) International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC.Google Scholar
  2. Abebe, G.K., J. Bijman, R. Kemp, O. Omta, and A. Tsegaye. 2013. Contract Farming Configuration: Smallholders’ Preferences for Contract Design Attributes. Food Policy 40: 14–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alemu, D., B. Lakew, K. Kelemu, and A. Bezabih. 2015. Increasing the Income of Malt Barley Farmers in Ethiopia Through More Effective Cooperative Management. Addis Ababa: Self-Help Africa.Google Scholar
  4. ATA. 2016. Agricultural Transformation Agenda Annual Report (2015–16). Agriculture Transformation Agency (ATA), Addis Ababa.Google Scholar
  5. Barrett, C.B. 2008. Smallholder Market Participation: Concepts and Evidence from Eastern and Southern Africa. Food Policy 33: 299–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barrett, C.B., M.E. Bachke, M.F. Bellemare, H.C. Michelson, S. Narayanan, and T.F. Walker. 2012. Smallholder Participation in Contract Farming: Comparative Evidence from Five Countries. World Development 40: 715–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bellemare, M.F., and J.R. Bloem. 2018. Does Contract Farming Improve Welfare? A Review. World Development 112: 259–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bijman, J., R. Muradian, and J. Schuurman. 2016. Cooperatives, Economic Democratization and Rural Development. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bolwig, S., S. Ponte, A. Du Toit, L. Riisgaard, and N. Halberg. 2010. Integrating Poverty and Environmental Concerns into Value-Chain Analysis: A Conceptual Framework. Development Policy Review 28: 173–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bowbrick, P. 2014. The Economics of Quality Grades and Brands. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. CSA. 2015. Area and Production of Major Crop, Agricultural Sample Survey. Central Statistical Agency (CSA) of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.Google Scholar
  12. Dries, L., E. Germenji, N. Noev, and J.F.M. Swinnen. 2009. Farmers, Vertical Coordination, and the Restructuring of Dairy Supply Chains in Central and Eastern Europe. World Development 37: 1742–1758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Faysse, N., and C. Simon. 2015. Holding All the Cards? Quality Management by Cooperatives in a Moroccan Dairy Value Chain. The European Journal of Development Research 27: 140–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. FDRE. 2016. Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II). Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), Addis Ababa.Google Scholar
  15. Fischer, E., and M. Qaim. 2012. Linking Smallholders to Markets: Determinants and Impacts of Farmer Collective Action in Kenya. World Development 40: 1255–1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fischer, E., and M. Qaim. 2014. Smallholder Farmers and Collective Action: What Determines the Intensity of Participation? Journal of Agricultural Economics 65: 683–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Francesconi, G.N., and R. Ruben. 2012. The Hidden Impact of Cooperative Membership on Quality Management: A Case Study from the Dairy Belt of Addis Ababa. Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity 1: 85–103.Google Scholar
  18. Grilli, L., and C. Rampichini. 2014. Ordered Logit Model. In Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research, ed. A.C. Michalos, 4510–4513. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haggblade, S. 2011. Modernizing African Agribusiness: Reflections for the Future. Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies 1: 10–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jaffee, S., S. Henson, and L. Diaz Rios. 2011. Making the Grade: Smallholder Farmers, Emerging Standards, and Development Assistance Programs in Africa. A Research Program Synthesis. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  21. Jayne, T., D. Mather, and E. Mghenyi. 2010. Principal Challenges Confronting Smallholder Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. World Development 38: 1384–1398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kebebe, E.G., S.J. Oosting, I. Baltenweck, and A.J. Duncan. 2017. Characterisation of Adopters and Non-adopters of Dairy Technologies in Ethiopia and Kenya. Tropical Animal Health and Production 49: 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kersting, S., and M. Wollni. 2012. New Institutional Arrangements and Standard Adoption: Evidence from Small-Scale Fruit and Vegetable Farmers in Thailand. Food Policy 37: 452–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kilelu, C., L. Klerkx, A. Omore, I. Baltenweck, C. Leeuwis, and J. Githinji. 2017. Value Chain Upgrading and the Inclusion of Smallholders in Markets: Reflections on Contributions of Multi-Stakeholder Processes in Dairy Development in Tanzania. The European Journal of Development Research 29: 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kissoly, L., A. Faße, and U. Grote. 2017. The Integration of Smallholders in Agricultural Value Chain Activities and Food Security: Evidence from Rural Tanzania. Food Security 9: 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kumar, D., V. Kumar, R. Verma, A. Kharub, and I. Sharma. 2013. Quality Parameter Requirement and Standards for Malt Barley—A Review. Agricultural Reviews 34: 313–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Latynskiy, E., and T. Berger. 2016. Networks of Rural Producer Organizations in Uganda: What Can be Done To Make Them Work Better? World Development 78: 572–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lemeilleurr, S. 2013. Smallholder Compliance with Private Standard Certification: The Case of GlobalGAP Adoption by Mango Producers in Peru. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 16 (4): 159.Google Scholar
  29. Lutz, C., and G. Tadesse. 2017. African Farmers’ Market Organizations and Global Value Chains: Competitiveness Versus Inclusiveness. Review of Social Economy 75: 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maertens, M., and K. Vande Velde. 2017. Contract-Farming in Staple Food Chains: The Case of Rice in Benin. World Development 95: 73–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McCullough, E.B., P.L. Pingali, and K.G. Stamoulis. 2008. Small Farms and the Transformation of Food Systems: An Overview. In The Transformation of Agri-food Systems: Globalization, Supply Chains and Smallholder Farmers, ed. E. McCullough and K. Stamoulis, 3–46. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  32. Meijer, S.S., D. Catacutan, O.C. Ajayi, G.W. Sileshi, and M. Nieuwenhuis. 2015. The Role of Knowledge, Attitudes and Perceptions in the Uptake of Agricultural and Agroforestry Innovations Among Smallholder Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 13: 40–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Minten, B., S. Tamru, E. Engida, and T. Kuma. 2016. Transforming Staple Food Value Chains in Africa: The Case of Teff in Ethiopia. The Journal of Development Studies 52: 627–645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mujawamariya, G., K. Burger, and M. D’Haese. 2012. Quality of Gum Arabic in Senegal: Linking the Laboratory Research to the Field Assessment. Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture 51: 357–383.Google Scholar
  35. Mwambi, M.M., J. Oduol, P. Mshenga, and M. Saidi. 2016. Does Contract Farming Improve Smallholder Income? The Case of Avocado Farmers in Kenya. Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies 6: 2–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Narrod, C., D. Roy, J. Okello, B. Avendaño, K. Rich, and A. Thorat. 2009. Public–Private Partnerships and Collective Action in High Value Fruit and Vegetable Supply Chains. Food Policy 34: 8–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Olomola, A.S. 2014. Determinants of Agro-Dealers’ Participation in the Loan Market in Nigeria. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 17: 65.Google Scholar
  38. Oser, H.H. 2015. Producing quality barley for the malting industry. PhD thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.Google Scholar
  39. Otsuka, K., Y. Nakano, and K. Takahashi. 2016. Contract Farming in Developed and Developing Economies. Annual Review of Resource Economics 8: 53–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Poulton, C., A. Dorward, and J. Kydd. 2010. The Future of Small Farms: New Directions for Services, Institutions, and Intermediation. World Development 38: 1413–1428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rashid, S., T.A. Gashaw, L. Solomon, and M. Nicholas. 2015. The Barley Value Chain in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).Google Scholar
  42. Reardon, T., C.B. Barrett, J.A. Berdegué, and J.F. Swinnen. 2009. Agrifood Industry Transformation and Small Farmers in Developing Countries. World Development 37: 1717–1727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Royer, A., and J. Bijman. 2012. Towards an Analytical Framework Linking Institutions and Quality: Evidence from the Beninese Pineapple Sector. African Journal of Agricultural Research 7: 5344–5356.Google Scholar
  44. Royer, A., J. Bijman, and V. Bitzer. 2016. Linking Smallholder Farmers to High Quality Food Chains: Appraising Institutional Arrangements. In Quality and Innovation in Food Chains: Lessons and Insights from Africa, ed. J. Bijman and V. Bitzer, 33–62. Wageningen: Wageningen University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shiferaw, B., J. Hellin, and G. Muricho. 2011. Improving Market Access and Agricultural Productivity Growth in Africa: What Role for Producer Organizations and Collective Action Institutions? Food Security 3: 475–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Swinnen, J. 2016. Economics and Politics of Food Standards, Trade, and Development. Agricultural Economics 47: 7–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shiferaw, B., M. Kassie, M. Jaleta, and C. Yirga. 2014. Adoption of Improved Wheat Varieties and Impacts on Household Food Security in Ethiopia. Food Policy 44: 272–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tefera, D.A., J. Bijman, and M.A. Slingerland. 2016a. Agricultural Co-operatives in Ethiopia: Evolution, Functions and Impact. Journal of International Development. Scholar
  49. Tefera, D.A., Bijman, J., Slingerland, M.A. 2016b. Smallholder Integration into Modern Agrifood Value Chains: A Case Study of the Ethiopian Malt Barley Industry (IBM Working paper 2016-01). Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands.Google Scholar
  50. Tefera, D.A., J. Bijman, and M.A. Slingerland. 2019. Multinationals and Modernisation of Domestic Value Chains in Africa: Case Studies from Ethiopia. The Journal of Development Studies. Scholar
  51. Ton, G., W. Vellema, S. Desiere, S. Weituschat, and M. D’Haese. 2018. Contract Farming for Improving Smallholder Incomes: What can We Learn from Effectiveness Studies? World Development 104: 46–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Trebbin, A., and M. Hassler. 2012. Farmers’ Producer Companies in India: A New Concept for Collective Action? Environment and Planning 44: 411–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tschirley, D., T. Reardon, M. Dolislager, and J. Snyder. 2015. The Rise of a Middle Class in East and Southern Africa: Implications for Food System Transformation. Journal of International Development 27: 628–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van Tilburg, A., J. Trienekens, R. Ruben, and M. van Boekel. 2007. Governance for Quality Management in Tropical Food Chains. Journal on Chain and Network Science 7: 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Verhees, F.J.H.M., T. Lans, and J.A.A.M. Verstegen. 2012. The Influence of Market and Entrepreneurial Orientation on Strategic Marketing Choices: The Cases of Dutch Farmers and Horticultural Growers. Journal on Chain and Network Science 12: 167–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Watabaji, M., M. Dora, A. Molnar, and X. Gellynck. 2016. The Influence of Value Chain Integration on Performance: An Empirical Study of the Malt Barley Value Chain in Ethiopia. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 19: 79–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. World Bank. 2008. Agriculture for development, World Development Report. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Delelegne Abera Tefera
    • 3
  • Jos Bijman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maja Slingerland
    • 2
  • Gerben van der Velde
    • 3
  • Onno Omta
    • 1
  1. 1.Business Management & Organisation GroupWageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Plant Production Systems GroupWageningen Universiteit and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Hawassa UniversityHawassaEthiopia

Personalised recommendations