The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 108–135 | Cite as

A Quantitative Approach to Innovation in Agricultural Value Chains: Evidence from Kenyan Horticulture

  • Aarti KrishnanEmail author
  • Chistopher Foster
Special Issue Article


In less developed countries such as Kenya, trade is increasingly occurring through, and employment is found within, global and local value chains. Yet, although innovation is widely recognised as crucial for development, the endogenous relationship between small-scale innovations and participation in global value chains (GVCs) has yet to be explored sufficiently. This endogeneity is highlighted using the 3L’s of labels, linkages and learnings as key overlapping factors that affect both the processes of innovation as well as GVC participation. Drawing on a survey of 320 fresh fruit farmers and 55 interviews in Kenya, we develop a novel method to quantify small-scale agricultural innovations, which are categorised into two overarching types. The first, formal, emanate from meeting standard requirements; the second, informal, evolve from local contexts and are less codified. We find that GVC farmers perform more formal innovations, while local farmers perform similar levels of informal innovation to GVC farmers.


value chains innovations Africa agriculture governance regional markets 

Dans les pays moins développés tels que le Kenya, le commerce se passe de plus en plus de la même façon que l’on trouve un emploi, c’est-à-dire par le biais des chaînes de valeur mondiales et locales. Dans le même temps, l’importance de l’innovation à petite échelle est de plus en plus reconnue. Cependant, la relation endogène entre les innovations à petite échelle et les chaînes de valeur mondiales (CVM) n’a pas encore été suffisamment explorée. Empiriquement, en se basant sur un sondage auprès de 320 cultivateurs de fruits frais et sur 55 entretiens au Kenya, nous quantifions systématiquement l’innovation agricole à petite échelle: il y a celles qui émanent de pressions extérieures formelles liées à la chaîne de valuer mondiale; et celles qui évoluent à partir de contextes locaux informels qui sont plus difficiles à codifier. Nous constatons que les agriculteurs de la chaîne de valeur mondiale réalisent des innovations plus formelles, alors que les agriculteurs locaux ainsi que ceux de de la chaîne de valeur mondiale ont des niveaux d’innovation informelle presque similaires. Nous soulignons également que les 3 “L”, c’est-à-dire les labels, liens et leçons apprises, sont des facteurs clés qui se cumulent et impactent à la fois les processus d’innovation ainsi que la participation à la chaîne de valeur mondiale.



The authors would like to acknowledge the support from Peter Knorringa, Kunal Sen, Rory Horner, Kate Meagher, Stephanie Barrientos and Khalid Nadvi for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper. We also thank the reviews for their valuable insights.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Development InstituteUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Overseas Development InstituteLondonUK
  3. 3.Information SchoolUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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