Name: Duncan McNicholl
Talk Title: “Using value chains to alleviate poverty.”
Notes: Faculty of Applied Science, Civil Engineering (Environmental Option), 4th year.
Vice President, Engineers Without Borders UBC Chapter.
Video: Click on image.
Topic: ” I spent this past summer in Malawi with Engineers Without Borders working on the cassava value chain in an effort to improve food security and rural incomes. In collaboration with a Malawian Non-Government Organization, we worked to achieve this by supporting rural entrepreneurs to produce cassava flour and stimulate the private sector.
Cassava is an excellent crop for conditions in Malawi and has the potential to vastly improve food security in famine-prone regions of the country. The difficulty is that the crop has little market value and many farmers are not interested in producing it because of this.
However, cassava has the potential to be processed into flour, which can be used as a substitute for wheat in baking products and also for the traditional Malawian meal, nsima. With rising wheat prices and crop failures limiting the production of maize flour, processed cassava is beginning to have promising market potential.
My project worked to help establish processors that could meet this market gap. Looking at the context of the market for a particular crop and facilitating its growth using local resources has much potential as an effective poverty alleviation approach, particularly with cassava. But how feasible is making agricultural value chains work for the rural poor?
Value chains are becoming increasingly popular in the development sector as sustainable and effective means of alleviating poverty. In my talk I will explore the nature and complexities of working with value chains through my own experience and the greater context of international development.”