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2 Guidelines for using the methodology

2.1 The Framework

2.1.1 Rationale

Post-production activities are an integral part of the food production system involving a complex series of operations from the producer through to the consumer or customer. Post-production activities are no longer regarded as assessing post-harvest losses and taking steps to reduce them. They involve farm management systems, tool and equipment manufacturing, agro-industries, as well as marketing activities. These activities add value to the commodities, directly benefiting the communities in which they are carried out. The total sum of post-production activities creates employment and income for many families in both rural and urban communities.

Current thinking on post-harvest issues highlights the following:

In addition to the delivery of information on specific topics, a broad conceptual framework is thought to be necessary to understand complex post-production systems. This framework combines several types of systems analysis (commodity, farmers, agro-ecological system, marketing, global policies). Thus it embraces people, technical aspects and framework conditions at the same time.

The methodological framework for planners, decision-makers and practitioners of the post-production sector is an instrument with which to examine the situation existing in a given country with a view to increasing the efficiency of the food production system. The accomplishment of this task calls for a comprehensive analysis. In order to further integrate post-production issues into agricultural programmes, national programmes and policies need to be studied for their relevance to post-production issues. Recent changes in the extent of the involvement of the public sector in, and its diminishing influence on the food production system in some countries, for example, indicates this need.

The framework is considered important for two reasons, practical as well as conceptual. Until recently, most attention has been paid to on-farm operations. In response to liberalisation and privatisation measures, farmers now have to find new outlets for products they used to sell to government-dominated marketing or multi-functional organisations. As a result, off-farm post-production issues have become critical and the relationship between on-farm and off-farm operations requires careful examination.

Linking the system of on-farm activities to other operations in the chain and then placing that chain in a wider socio-economic and political context requires a consistently logical approach and a sound analytical method. The FAO/GTZ initiative to produce a conceptual framework and to carry out a systematic analysis of post-production systems should be seen against this background.

2.1.2 Scope

The focus of the framework is on the post-production system. It may be applied for single commodities (e.g. cassava) or groups of commodities (e.g. roots and tubers). It has been developed and applied for commodities of plant origin but may also be adapted to analyse products of animal origin such as meat products, fish, hides, etc.

The consumer plays the leading role in this system and influences post-production operations through demand and preferences. Of the main actors who add value to the product, emphasis is on smallholder producers and small- to medium-scale entrepreneurs. Although their multiple roles and diverse economic strategies increase the complexity of the analysis, the large numbers of small producers and their contribution to food production is significant.

Post-production activities normally extend from physiological maturity to primary processing1. Depending on the commodity, post-production operations may include such steps as

As far as interventions by donors and development institutions (e.g. projects) are concerned, a series of service components within the post-production system can be distinguished. These components are rather complex in themselves so that just one of them (or even part of one) may be the content of a special project. The following table provides an overview of the components and core services included:

Service Component

Core Service

Policies to improve post-production systems

Strengthening the capacities of government institutions to design an adequate policy framework for agricultural marketing and post-production systems

Research and development (R&D)

Supporting the establishment and upgrading of research and development institutions for improved post-production and food technologies

Introduction of technologies in the post-production system

Participatory development of technically, economically and socio-culturally viable problem solutions

Product quality management in the post-production system

Development and establishment of quality management systems

Upgrading of processing micro-enterprises

Establishment of demand-oriented services for treatment and processing micro-enterprises

Upgrading of small and medium-sized agro-industrial enterprises

Establishment of demand-oriented services to small and medium-sized enterprises of agro-industries

Food control

Establishment and improvement of food control and inspection

Service Component

Core Service

Improvement of marketing strategies

Development and pilot introduction of marketing concepts

Organisation of market actors

Establishment and promotion of participatory and self-managed associations of market actors

Strengthening the market position of small-scale farmers

Establishment and training of marketing- and procurement-oriented producer associations of small-scale farmers

Management of market establishments

Development of management systems for the operation of market infrastructure

Improvement of price and market information

Development and maintenance of price and market information systems

2.1.3 Actors

For analytical purposes three categories of actors must be distinguished within the post-production sector:

    • main actors who operate in order to add value to the product

    • indirect actors who influence the post-production system.

    • supporting actors who provide inputs such as equipment, tools, fuel, labour, credit, training, skills etc. into the post-production system

The actors operate at different levels of action and intervention, on farm or off farm. They may be female or male. Whether women or men predominate in a particular activity depends mainly on traditions relating to ethnic groups or religious beliefs. It is important to check which gender predominates for each operation.

The GTZ has published guidelines for gender-orientation in the post-harvest sector (Günther & Zimprich, undated) which are a valuable complement to the framework methodology. The brochure helps to identify gender-specific aspects relating to the living conditions of men and women in rural areas, the division of labour, access to and control of resources, and approaches to gender-oriented development of post-production projects. Main Actors

Depending on the commodity and the economic structure of the respective region, there may be a comparatively large number of main actors involved in post-production systems. Definitions for the main actors are given below: Indirect Actors

The indirect actors consist of two groups:

    • consumers or institutions buying the product for consumption. Their demand in terms of quality, quantity, time and space has to be satisfied

    • governments formulating policies and regulations with which the other actors in the post-production system must comply

As the framework emphasises the role of consumers or customers, some further comments on their role seem necessary. The development work of donor agencies often used to be producer-oriented because of the high priority on income generation. In many cases, however, national policies were designed to provide people with cheap food, partly to satisfy their needs, but also for political reasons. This situation entailed a conflict of interests that was not addressed openly. It goes without saying that producers, traders, transporters and processors try to maximise the profits from their post-production operations. Consumers, however, are in most cases not able or willing to pay high prices, especially for staples.

The actor-oriented approach of the methodological framework includes the market and the consumers. Thus it allows analysis of the needs of both the consumers and the main actors and may help to design projects that are based on realistic assumptions. It is a basic prerequisite of sustainable improvements to post-production operations to create "win-win" situations for all the actors involved. An example is the improvement of food quality that may result in higher incomes for farmers and increased food safety for consumers so that both actors have clear advantages from the innovation.

As far as local consumers are concerned, the producers and other main actors are well aware of their needs and demand. However, certain problems with availability, quality and standards persist owing to unfavourable political and economic framework conditions and partly to the inability or unwillingness of urban consumers to pay higher prices for food which meets international quality norms, like the ones defined in the Codex Alimentarius.

The world market and certain regional markets are a much bigger challenge for post-production operators and decision-makers than local markets. Some developing countries, especially in Africa, have serious problems in satisfying customers in the world market. These problems are connected with, for example, quarantine regulations, quality demands relating to standards such as the ISO 9 000 family of the International Standards Organization (ISO) that have become common among big importers, or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) concepts established by the big food companies. Sections 3.2 and 3.3 contain proposals for the application of the post-production systems approach to address these issues. Supporting Actors

Two categories of (non-family) supporting actors are essential for maintaining the efficiency of the chain of operations and preventing wastage:

    • artisans, mechanics, repairmen and dealers needed in case equipment breaks down and spare parts must be provided

    • labourers, usually contracted, who, for instance, handle the commodity before and after a single operation is performed

2.1.4 Analytical Procedures

The comprehensive method for analysing post-production systems consists of the following five steps:

  1. country analysis and role of food production
  2. economic and institutional analysis of the post-production and marketing chain
  3. actor analysis and social context
  4. analysis of constraints and bottlenecks
  5. checklist of appropriateness of technical interventions

These steps are necessary to obtain systematic access to the information that is required to prepare a comprehensive study. A meaningful post-production system analysis will start with a comparatively broad description of framework conditions etc. and will gradually narrow down to an in-depth study of one or two commodities or a group of related products like, for example, cereals. The analytical steps are taken using the principles described in sections 2.1.7. and 2.1.8 and the tools set out in section 2.2.

Steps 1 to 3 and 5 are considered necessary to integrate post-production issues into the agricultural sector as a whole. Step 4 concerns the appraisal of the post-production sector. Their analysis requires mostly statistical and quantitative data. For the appraisal of the post-production sector, checklists of the main issues for analysis have been prepared from a multidisciplinary point of view. These checklists can be found in annex I. The five steps of the framework are outlined in the following sections. Country Analysis and Role of Food Production (Step 1)

The purpose of this step is to check how far local government pays implicit or explicit attention to the post-production sub-sector. Information should be collected on the following and related issues: Economic and Institutional Analysis of the Post-production and Marketing Chain (Step 2)

This step assesses the performance of the post-production and marketing system. The following topics are relevant: Actor Analysis and Social Context (Step 3)

This step serves in the first place to determine the needs and interests of the actors in the post-production system. In this context, gender relations are extremely important. The following information is required: Analysis of Constraints and Bottlenecks (Step 4)

This step assesses the general constraints and specific bottlenecks affecting actors in the post-production sector. Five major areas of concern have been identified from a technical, economic, social and institutional perspective. Questions and checklists referring to these five areas of concern are given in annex I. They may be used to prepare individual discussion guides for informal interviews with actors. Possible constraints and bottlenecks for individual actors and operations can be deduced from the answers received. The five areas of concern are:

  1. interruptions or imperfections in the chain of operations before food reaches its destination
  2. access of actors to resources such as capital, technology, skills and education
  3. acceptability of innovations of a technical, social or cultural nature from actors' point of view
  4. affordability of innovations for actors
  5. appropriateness of public policy, service delivery, collective institutions and action

The set of questions formulated in the first area of concern (see annex I and the following sets of questions) places possible constraints encountered in the food production system in a historical context. The basic question is:

"Describe recent changes in .... (during the last three to five years)".

Answers to questions in the second area of concern will enable interviewers to link conditions affecting the main actors to problems identified in the post-production sector. The guiding question in this area is:

"Are the following resources available/accessible to farmers/entrepreneurs?"

Areas three, four and five (acceptability of innovations, affordability of innovations and appropriateness of public policy and service delivery) point to the existing situation as well as the implications for interventions or innovations. Answers to the questions in these three areas are essential to determine the perceptions of the main actors as regards innovations. Direct interventions will benefit any actor if his or her interests or needs have been taken into account and the common needs of all prevail over the interests of one particular actor,. Answers indicating which of the alternatives appears feasible at the aggregate level of decision-making. Obviously, before decisions are made, a choice of options or interventions must be examined. The main questions for areas of concern three and four are:

"Is the intervention proposed/applied appropriate/acceptable?" and

"Is/was the innovation/intervention affordable and viable?"

As regards the fifth area of concern (appropriateness of public policies), this section will be descriptive, and the basic question therefore is the following:

"Is/are there any ... ?"

Where perceptions of on-farm actors do not match those further away in the village, the nearby town, the capital or any other place in or outside the country, the questions have been differentiated for the various off-farm levels.

Country and actor-specific answers provide a practical guide to quick identification of the key problems. The felt needs of specific actors must be cross-checked with the needs of other actors in the system and with the priorities of national and international development policies such as alleviation of poverty, creation of employment and food security. Checklist of Appropriateness of Technical Interventions
(Step 5)

The final step in the analysis of post-production systems is the assessment of the appropriateness and acceptability of possible interventions in the various operations. This is done using a checklist arranged according to the relevant operation and agro-ecological zone. This checklist may be used as a guide by an interdisciplinary team of planners to anticipate problems caused by technical interventions or innovations in the various operations.

2.1.5 Indicators to Measure Post-production Systems Performance

Indicators are required for the analysis of post-production systems and the evaluation of interventions in this field. However, it is not possible to present a set of indicators here that may be used in any situation because indicators depend on objectives, policies and framework conditions which may differ from one country to another and are subject to change over time.

This means that indicators must be worked out for each individual case. Meaningful indicators should be in line with international efforts, like the indicator programme developed by the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) which is in charge of the follow-up of the Agenda 21 process. Indicators should be substantial, plausible and independent and should provide precise information on aspects like:

Indicators should refer to actors (e.g. living conditions, income), commodities (e.g. quantities, quality, diversity), processes (e.g. the functioning of the marketing chain) and the institutional set-up (e.g. services rendered by supporting structures). One hypothetical example of an indicator for the impact of a project intervention in the field of post-production on the target group is:

"By the year 2010, at least 10 000 women in the Southern Province will achieve an average annual income of 500 US Dollar with self-managed cassava processing activities using labour- and energy-saving equipment".

2.1.6 Opportunities for Improvement of the Post-production System

If the framework is used in its totality, it will provide an overview of general constraints, specific bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. Opportunities for improvement will be at the national, regional or village levels and at on/off-farm levels. At the national level, prescriptions may be given for policy changes, legislation, formulation of measures, programmes or projects. Policy measures could relate to liberalisation of prices and markets, deregulation, promotion of self-help initiatives and follow-up action. This could, for instance, concern the improvement of infrastructure and public actors, the establishment of marketing information channels and private trade organisations. Recommendations could be given for the formulation of a multi-sectoral post-production programme or a specific project, introducing innovations in technology and management. A very important aspect is the provision of credit for these innovations.

Potential for action will arise at on/off-farm levels. It is essential that the question of the extent of private- or public-sector involvement is answered first. Subsequently, options for publicly sponsored activities (development projects) can be suggested at the appropriate decision-making level. At the same time, private initiatives may be encouraged to facilitate self-help initiatives by main and supporting actors.

2.1.7 The Participatory Principle

Participation is one of the central topics of Agenda 21, the political priorities of donors and the guidelines of development agencies. The methodological framework contains several participatory steps. During the in-country part, meetings with partner institutions and discussions of work plans are imperative. PRA methods predominate during the in-field studies.

The description of the methodology used during the Kenya country study devotes much attention to the participatory principle. The report acknowledges that participatory methods are generally advantageous for exploratory studies but it also points out that in this particular case they lack high quality data. This disadvantage may be partially overcome by collecting appropriate secondary data and by conducting some formal research.

The participatory approach has the benefit of creating a strong feeling of ownership amongst the people involved in the process and thus may have a positive impact on the sustainability of interventions planned, executed and monitored with participatory methods. Werner (1993) gives a good introduction to the participatory development of agricultural innovations that may serve as a guideline.

2.1.8 The Multi-disciplinary Approach

The technical approach to the prevention of post-harvest losses which was described briefly in section is based on natural sciences relating to agriculture and food technology. Economic questions were also taken into account where it seemed necessary. Academic methods prevailed in research and surveying. The consequence of this approach was strict problem orientation. In many cases too little account was taken of the target groups before innovations were put into practice. The top-down extension approaches commonly used at this stage were also technically oriented. The target groups were chosen as a function of the message and they were generally treated as receivers only. The result, as already stated, was unsatisfactory adoption rates and rather poor sustainability in many cases.

With the development of the farming systems approach, social sciences were commonly included in surveys. Although this concept was still an academic one, it contributed much to a better understanding of the actors' needs. After the introduction of RRA and PRA, social sciences took the lead. In current participatory studies, the teams represent a well-balanced selection of sciences. Sociologists, economists and agriculturists are the specialists most often involved but - depending on the study subject - other scientists like anthropologists or nutritionists may also be members of multi-disciplinary teams. A model for the terms of reference (TOR) for study team members is given in annex VII.

An important step in preparing a post-production systems analysis is the creation of awareness for the special features and difficulties of this approach within the study team. By the time the field part of the study starts, all team members should show real enthusiasm for the exercise and be motivated to overcome the difficulties that may arise.

The members of study teams may be local experts or international consultants. The indigenous know-how of local team members is indispensable to assess the existing problems and determine the priorities properly. Local specialists very often have better access to the target groups because of ethnic, cultural or language identity or similarity. For the same reasons they can communicate easily with local assistants involved in surveying or translating.

Local team members also have an advantage in that they can make the right connections and facilitate work at higher levels. This also implies raising the awareness of stakeholders who may not always be fully convinced of the need for post-production systems analysis.

2.2 The Tool-box

The framework methodology is designed to analyse post-production systems from different perspectives simultaneously. A wide range of methods may be combined in a flexible way to describe the post-production chains of commodities as well as the actors and their interests and roles. Some of the methods presented in this chapter are more appropriate to obtaining information about actors (e.g. participatory workshops and diagrams representing organisational landscapes) while others are useful tools to analyse technical issues (e.g. resource mapping and ranking techniques). There are also methods like semi-structured interviews that can be used for both purposes. As stated above, the underlying principle of all the tools is the participation of the people surveyed in the planning, execution and evaluation of the study.

2.2.1 Collection of Secondary Data

Collection and analysis of secondary data provides a first orientation and helps to save resources. If done properly, it can produce satisfactory results at low cost.

The problems of using existing reports, publications, statistics and other documents are:

Hence, secondary sources can be unreliable. For international consultants not very familiar with the local situation, it may be difficult to judge the quality of secondary data. However, data from reputed institutions which operate internationally are, as a rule, reliable. In some cases, certain points may have to be verified by questioning key informants or using other PRA techniques. The use of secondary sources can be facilitated by setting up an expert editors panel composed of local specialists. This approach was successfully applied in the Ghana country study.

An Internet search using the INPhO system (see section or other relevant web sites (cf. annex V) is recommended as a first step to collecting secondary data from the office desk or even from home.

2.2.2 Workshops

Workshops play a major role in the framework methodology for post-production systems analysis. They involve stakeholders directly and are based on participatory methods like group work and visualisation so that they serve several purposes:

Workshops played a major role in the Kenya country study. As an example of their use, we shall briefly discuss here the way workshops were integrated into the study's design.

The first workshop was organised at GTZ headquarters in Eschborn/Germany in December 1995 in order to pre-select the focus of the study. The participants were GTZ staff members and consultants. Grain legumes, including soya, were considered promising commodities for post-production systems analysis, with special reference to post-harvest losses and their role in human nutrition, soil fertilisation and conservation.

The second workshop took place in May 1996 during the preparatory mission in Nairobi, Kenya. The participants of this workshop (local experts and stakeholders) set the priority on root and tuber crops (potato and sweet potato) by contrast with the result of the Eschborn meeting.

A preparatory meeting and workshop on the results were conducted during the field research and data analysis phase of the study (February and March 1997, Nairobi). The approach helped to render the study design, the evaluation of the results and the documentation transparent for the partners involved.

Finally, another post-study workshop took place in Nairobi in March 1998, at which recommendations were made on improving the framework methodology and on the action plan previously worked out.

Holding five workshops during this country study consumed a considerable amount of time and funds. It was nevertheless worth while because the involvement of the partners was so strong that they now consider the topic to be important enough to be followed up without applying for external help. This result can be taken as an indication that a strong spirit of ownership has been built up.

The know-how necessary to organise and moderate workshops is documented in many books on communication and management. A good introduction is the publication by Siebenhühner (1993). Grieshaber's handbook (1994) provides the necessary background for workshops on the actors level and is fun to read. La Gra (1990) describes special workshops on commodity systems assessment.

2.2.3 PRA Methods

This sections contains a brief presentation of the most important methods or instruments used in the PRA work of the country studies carried out in Kenya and Zambia and other methods that are potentially useful for future studies. More detailed information can be found in the specialised literature (e.g. Schönhuth & Kievelitz 1994, from which the following descriptions have been derived to a large extent).

Some of these methods such as semi-structured interviews can easily be adapted to all kinds of study topics, situations and target groups. Others apply only in a certain context. It is, however, not possible to give detailed instructions for the use of the methods presented here. PRA work requires a broad methodological knowledge, communication skills, intercultural competence and sufficient professional experience to allow flexible reactions in line with requirements on the spot.

It is worth remembering that this approach - notwithstanding the term Participatory Rural Appraisal - can be used perfectly well for surveying in urban environments or even to assess organisational issues at higher levels. The essential features of PRA are its flexibility, simplicity and speed. It is not in the least limited to a particular environment or situation, like rural development.

The following PRA methods have been applied successfully in the first field tests of the framework methodology: Semi-structured Interviews

This technique is also called guided, non-standardised, less structured or non-directive interviewing. During the three country studies, it was applied for the collection of information from farmers, household heads and other household members, grain millers and other processors, rural and urban brokers, agents, traders and other key informants. Semi-structured interviews do not have a pre-defined structure. They are comparatively easy to conduct and can provide good qualitative data on all kinds of topics.

Semi-structured interviews are the most important instrument in PRA. The starting point is a checklist containing 10 to 15 key questions. New complexes of questions may arise during the interview. Topics are always dealt with as they arise. It is often more efficient to interview groups, but individual respondents, like key informants, also play a major role. Depending on the interviewed persons, the following distinctions can be made:

may involve randomly encountered people or systematically selected groups. These may involve specific target groups or representatives of certain segments of society, like women. The size should not exceed 10 persons so that all group members have a chance to talk. In the country studies, the term 'informal group discussions' has been used for interviews with farmers and farmers' associations, women's groups, other village community members and grain traders.

involving all interested people may be useful for collecting information and ideas for planning, implementation and evaluation purposes.

concentrate on specific problem areas. The members should not be dependent on one another and should participate voluntarily. Farmer-scientist focus sessions are an efficient method of two-way learning.

involve persons, representative of certain categories (farmers, traders, etc.) or viewpoints, who are able to provide the necessary information. They are a useful tool for the analysis of post-production operations or for the collection of regional data. Key informants interviewed during the country studies included officials at provincial, district and field level.

The interviewed persons, place and time must be selected carefully. Conduct interviews in familiar surroundings and at times that do not interfere too much with daily working routines. Two interviewers are needed. The first one leads the discussion and the second one takes notes. Ask two neighbours the same questions about themselves and their neighbour and compare the answers.

The typical sequence of a semi-structured interview is as follows:

  1. Greetings and introduction of the interviewers and the people interviewed
  2. Explanation of the objective of the interview
  3. Dialogue using open questions (why?, who?, what?, where?, when?, how? ...) and following the checklist (or interview guide) prepared beforehand.
  4. Expression of thanks

(used for individual interviews in a market study on root and tuber crops during a DSE/GTZ workshop in Douala, Cameroon, in May 1997) Direct Observation of Post-production Operations

+> Procedure
Direct observation means an intensive and systematic capturing of phenomena and processes that are observable on the spot. Post-production operations like harvesting, drying, transportation, storing, pest control operations, processing or selling in the market are ideal objects for direct observation. The results should be cross-checked with other information like that obtained from interviews with key informants in order to verify their correctness. The results should be properly documented (written reports, videos, photos, drawings, etc.).

!! Hints
It may often be helpful to observe very early or late in the day or in places where the main action does not take place (e.g. meeting-places, bars) in order to obtain "unfiltered" information.

Permission must be obtained from the local people for the use of aids like tape recorders, cameras or notebooks.

Other methods that have not been applied yet within the FAO framework but may also be useful are: Identifying Key Areas and Using Key Indicators

+> Procedure
Key questions are asked in order to identify the central problems and study areas. (E.g.: "Which problem most affects your farming activities?") Then a study plan is drawn up and techniques for individual study areas are identified.

Criteria are identified for phenomena that cannot be observed directly, such as aspects relating to political and social structures. Some of these criteria (e.g. standard of living) are assessed using indicators that are simple to observe (the condition of houses, granaries, equipment, tools or clothes, for example, reflects the living standard). These assessments are made by the local people themselves using ranking/rating/sorting techniques.

!! Hints
The proper use of key indicators requires some practice. It is recommended that local indicators reflecting people's criteria for assessing living standards etc. are used to start with. Local indicators may differ greatly from those assumed by outsiders for a given phenomenon. For example, in African rural societies the standard of living is not necessarily reflected by the size and condition of the house, clothes, school attendance etc., but may be expressed through the number of wives of the family head, the size of a cattle herd or other local indicators. Local Knowledge and Classifications

+> Procedure
The full integration of existing local know-how is decisive for project success. Local classifications and categories may be more precise and appropriate than the ones used by outsiders. This factor plays, for example, an important role in the description of crop varieties, processed products and dishes or in the use of units for marketing. The use of local classifications facilitates communication with the target group.

!! Hints
As far as the documentation is concerned care should be taken to relate local classifications to internationally known and accepted ones so that conversion can easily be made by anyone. Participatory Observation

+> Procedure
Participatory observation provides an understanding of the local community through participation in its everyday activities. This technique calls for investigators who are familiar with the terrain and at least a two to three months stay for a study with a limited focus. The documentation is done by taking notes on all observations and on the outcome of all conversations every evening.

!! Hints
In this case it is advisable to use sociologists with good field experience. This exercise consumes much time and, as a consequence, considerable funds. The analysis of post-production systems may not necessarily require a participatory observation exercise. Thorough analysis of farming and household systems, however, is difficult to do meaningfully without participatory observation. Resource and Social Mapping

+> Procedure
A map is drawn in group work that shows the resources and the social structure of a village or neighbourhood. Such maps can provide information about public infrastructure (roads, water supply, utilities, etc.), other resources like mills or processing plants, residential structures and conditions, and the social situation of households. Resource maps can give useful information about the existing infrastructure for post-production operations in a given location.

!! Hints
As social maps touch upon the private spheres of people, there are limits to their application in RRA/PRA studies. Transects

Transect analysis is also called cross-section mapping.

+> Procedure
In RRA, transects are the most important technique after guided interviews. Transects are used in rural areas to explore the physical lay-out and problems. The study area is systematically traversed together with local informants on a route including all important land types/uses. All observations are discussed and recorded. Transects are represented in simple maps in which different micro-zones or units like field/forest/village can be distinguished. Very often, transects are used to assess agriculture-related problems. Combined with a representation of relevant resources they may also be considered as a way to tackle post-production problems.

On the basis of conversations with key persons, historical transects can also be drawn up to show what the situation was like at various times in the past and to highlight the changes.

!! Hints
Avoid excessively detailed information. Indicate approximate distances. Give information about soils, land use, crops, problem areas, development potential, etc. Seasonal Calendars

+> Procedure
Seasonal calendars are drawn up in group work on the basis of interviews and discussions. Complex relationships between natural seasonal cycles and human activities are depicted in simple graphics arrayed one under the other. In this way changes over the year and connections between climatic factors, cropping sequences, workload and many other topics can easily be visualised.

!! Hints
Use relative scales for the assessment of information like the workload (Ask: In which month do you have most work? Which is the next most labour-intensive?) Proceed like this for the four months in which most work is done, then repeat the procedure for the four least labour intensive months and finally compare the months that are left.

Compare the result to other sources (e.g. statistics) and discuss them with the community. Timelines

Timelines are also known as historical profiles.

+> Procedure
Timelines are used to visualise key historical events and major perceived changes. They consist in a simple listing of events according to date (often approximate). Natural resource factors (e.g. soil erosion, population growth or climatic changes) should be included. The decisions of local people are often strongly influenced by historical experience. Therefore it is important for outsiders to take account of these facts. Timelines are developed during group discussions.

!! Hints
If historical events have changed people's attitudes and actions they should be interviewed about the solutions they applied and, where not successful, about possible alternatives. Diagrams Representing Institutional Landscapes

Organisational set-ups can be well described and clearly depicted using diagrams known as Venn or Chapati diagrams.

+> Procedure
Like other mapping and diagramming techniques, Venn diagrams require group sessions. They give an overview of the 'institutional landscape'. Key institutions, groups or even persons within the community are drawn as circles of different sizes on big sheets of paper. The size indicates the relative importance attributed to them. Their relationships can be shown by the closeness or intersection of these circles or by arrows of different boldness that connect them. Two overlapping circles, for example, show that the institutions or groups represented by them have some members in common. Circles that are connected with bold arrows show strong relationships and fine arrows show less developed relationships. It goes without saying that the arrows may point in one or other or even both directions depending on the nature of the relationships.

In post-production systems analysis, Venn diagrams may be used to depict institutional landscapes on different levels ranging from the national level down to village level.

!! Hints
Venn diagrams can demonstrate differences of view with respect to key institutions as seen by single groups (e.g. differences on a gender scale).

=> Example of a Venn Diagram
(taken from an agricultural extension workshop in Shinyanga, Tanzania, in June 1996)

DRDP = District Development Project
ICSP = Integrated Control of Storage Pests
IPM = Integrated Pest Management
PPD = Plant Protection Division
RDD = Regional Development Departement
WVT = World Vison Tanzania
YADEC = Youth Advising and Development Council Manufacturing Models

+> Procedure
Simple small-scale models can be used to resolve conflicts in decision-making on, for instance, the setting up of a village processing unit or the layout of a village market. They enable people to envisage the consequences and implications of decisions and to negotiate alternatives. They allow people who otherwise have little say to participate in decision-making processes.

!! Hints
Models should be large enough (at least 2 x 3 m) and made from cheap and locally available materials like wood, stones, mud, straw, seeds and sand. Ranking and Scoring Techniques

Ranking of Preferences

+> Procedure
Preference ranking is used to identify problem areas quickly and to compare individual assessments. The units to be ranked are either collected in a group session, for example by brainstorming or derived from information collected from key informants. The preferences are identified by assigning scores (e.g. from 5 = most important to 1 = least important). In post-production systems analysis, either preference ranking or the following method may be used for, among other purposes, comparing constraints.

!! Hints
Do not exceed 5 or 6 units to be ranked at a time.

Following matrix example:

Ranking by Pairs

+> Procedure
A maximum of five or six selected units are noted on cards and shown to the interviewed persons two at a time. The persons are asked to indicate the preferred unit or the biggest problem until all combinations have been gone through. The interviewed persons are also requested to explain their decisions briefly.

Matrix Ranking and Matrix Scoring

+> Procedure
In matrix ranking a class of objects is evaluated by applying different criteria and assigning a value from 5 (well-suited) to 1 (poorly suited). In matrix scoring the weighting of the criteria is not fixed on a scale but left to the people doing the analysis. Matrix scoring has become more common than matrix ranking in recent years. Matrix scoring was very useful in the country studies for selecting the commodities to study.

Wealth Ranking (Social Stratification)

+> Procedure
Wealth ranking is employed to capture differences in living standards as perceived by people. This technique gives an insight into relative social stratification. As the criteria differ from place to place, they should be defined by the local community.

Wealth ranking starts with a numbered list of households. Each household number is copied on to a card. Key informants familiar with all the households are asked independently of one another to place the cards on stacks corresponding to certain categories based on their criteria. The result is visualised in a matrix.

Wealth ranking may be used to describe the socio-economic situation of the actors in a post-production systems analysis.

!! Hints
Some problems that can be encountered in wealth ranking are:

Where wealth ranking is not feasible, social mapping techniques or the use of key indicators are recommended. Visual Forms of Presentations

+> Procedure
In all kinds of workshops, including planning and evaluation sessions, visual presentations are required. In RRA and PRA flip-charts, blackboards, pinboards with cards, posters, photos, videos, overhead transparencies and local materials like stones and seeds are useful tools. Their use has many advantages such as:

!! Hints
The final result of an RRA or PRA study must always be developed in a participatory workshop using visual techniques so that the findings can be analysed by the actors and, if necessary, corrected. A Final Remark on Methods

All the PRA methods should be used in a flexible way. The first rule applying to their application is "Hand over the stick!". This means that the target group should take the study into their own hands with the collaboration of the study team.

A short overview of all the PRA methods presented above is given in the table in annex VIII.

2.2.4 Data Interpretation and Documentation

Team work, including a workshop with stakeholders, is imperative for the interpretation of the data and documentation. This procedure contributes much to the quality of the results and the acceptance of all participants. Appropriate plausibility checks should be included, e.g. comparison of PRA data with statistics, research results and experts' opinions.

2.2.5 Planning and Scheduling a Post-production Systems Study

The following flow-chart represents the overall approach towards a country study. It is based on a similar one shown in the report from Kenya. It is not very detailed to allow for the necessary flexibility:

1. Request for a post-production systems analysis by a local institution
2. Funding of the study
3. Design of the scope, etc. in a pre-study workshop
4. Selection of the study team
5. Awareness-raising, team building and training (including workshop)
6. Secondary data collection and field surveying
7. Review of the findings and methodology (workshop)
8. Drafting of the report
9. Presentation of the results in a workshop
10. Recommendations and development of action plans, elaboration of programme and project proposals (workshop)

There is no fixed sequence of individual activities in a post-production systems analysis. The following set of activities is proposed for the scheme shown above. The selection and final sequence must be adapted to the specific requirements of every study:


In-field work

Evaluation, documentation and presentation

The duration of a post-production systems study may vary depending on the scope, the approach and other factors. In order to get a rough idea of the time that is required to conduct such an analysis, some estimates based on the experience of the country studies are given here. As described in the following section, the country studies were conducted according to quite different approaches.
This is why the following estimation uses a hypothetical standard procedure that must be adapted to the local circumstances in every case:

Working step

Time required

Planning and preparation of a preliminary mission to the study area

up to 1 week

Execution of the preliminary mission (including creation of awareness, collection of secondary data, determination of the scope of the study and selection of the team mem-bers, interviews with key informants, choice of products, first field visits)

1 to 2 weeks

Execution of the main mission (including team building, methodological training of the team members, participa-tory operational planning of the study, elaborating inter-view guidelines, rapid appraisal of the post-production system, analysing the collected data, executing a work-shop on the survey results

4 to 6 weeks

Compiling the study report

3 to 4 weeks


9 to 13 weeks

2.3 Case Studies

The FAO methodological framework has been tested in three country studies and one preparatory study for a new project. However, there were major differences in the way the studies were organised and the available set of tools applied. The approach and the methods used are described in the following sections to give an idea of the different ways in which a country study can be conducted. Summaries of the results of the country studies are given in annex II (for Ghana), annex III (for Kenya) and annex IV (for Zambia). They are derived from the executive summaries and the matrix on the comparison of results compiled by R. Kaske.

2.3.1 The Kenya Country Study

This study was commissioned by GTZ and was the first one to be completed. The crops to be analysed in Kenya were identified in a first expert meeting in Germany, but in response to the opinion of the local partners the focus was shifted from grain legumes to potatoes and sweet potatoes during the preliminary mission to Kenya. This mission included the collection of secondary data and interviews with key informants, the creation of awareness among stakeholders, a participatory workshop to choose the product group, determination of the scope of the study and selection of the team members.

The main mission consisted of the following steps:

  1. building of a multi-disciplinary study team to include different perspectives and experiences
  2. sensitising interested groups (stakeholders)
  3. participatory training of team members in methods of systems analysis and appraisal techniques including the selection of appropriate PRA methods
  4. involving Kenyan organisations from policy planning, research and extension in the planning and execution of the study
  5. identifying survey hypotheses on the systems performance from different sources of information
  6. elaborating interview guidelines for the different target groups
  7. conducting a workshop on the expectations of the stakeholders
  8. reviewing the survey methodology
  9. collecting secondary data
  10. appraisal of the rural part of the post-production chain and the rural and urban marketing structure
  11. analysing the collected data
  12. conducting a workshop on the survey results

The approach included a second post-study workshop held one year later, at which recommendations were made on the improvement of the framework methodology and on the action plan.

During the main mission, the following PRA tools were used at the rural level:

At the urban level, the same choice of tools was applied:

The Kenya study focused on economic questions relating to the potato and sweet potato post-production chains with special emphasis on marketing (see annex III for more information). A survey of the consumption patterns of sweet potatoes and other staples of middle and low-income Nairobi dwellers has been included.

Contrary to previous assumptions of some experts, the relevant post-production systems seem to function rather well, with the exception of certain constraints relating to infrastructure (poor state of the roads) and framework conditions such as lack of agricultural extension, etc. (cf. the following figure taken from the study). The usefulness of workshops and participatory methods for the analysis of post-production and marketing systems was clearly demonstrated and valuable insights on their application were obtained.

Deviation of operations' performance from a "social optimum"
(Example from the Kenya country study on potatoes and sweet potatoes)


Degree of Deviation




lack of extension



no distortion



grading is adequate



technical solutions are available

On-farm processing


currently not a viable activity, lack of extension

Farmers' marketing


usually there are several options for the farmer



lack of rural roads

Wholesale marketing


facilities are not adequate for market volume

Urban processing


under-developed for sweet potato

Consumption potato


1. maize market intervention spills over to the potato market



2. demand for sweet potato is limited by cultural

2.3.2 The Zambia Country Study

The first phase of the study on maize and cassava in Zambia conducted by FAO consisted of a baseline study (literature review and first field visits) carried out by three national consultants.

The main mission started with the review of their reports and the study of selected published and grey literature by the three international consultants who joined them. Meetings were held with key officials from public and private-sector organisations in the capital. The field survey visits included discussions with state officials on different levels, representatives of co-operatives, project personnel, farmers, traders and millers. The focus was on data collection using the following PRA methods:

The Zambia study gives a good overview of post-production operations for maize and, to some extent, for cassava in rural areas. Urban areas have not been included in the focus of the analysis. A description of the problems associated with the recent introduction of a devastating storage pest, the Larger grain borer, is included. The consequences of market liberalisation without any accompanying support to farmers and other actors (e.g. traders) are described. A summary of the findings is included in annex IV.

2.3.3 The Ghana Country Study

The country study on yams and tomatoes in Ghana was a collaborative effort of two projects, Sedentary Farming Systems in the Brong Ahafo Region (Ministry of Food and Agriculture/GTZ) and Post-Harvest Protection for Smallholders (GTZ, Germany). The Ghana study was compiled by several authors contributing individual chapters. Their work was based on recent independent PRA studies.

The following procedure was applied:

  1. selection of the crops to be analysed by an expert panel according to specific criteria (cf. annex IX)
  2. commissioning of individual chapters from authors involved in specific post-production field studies using PRA methods
  3. analysing, editing and compiling of the report by a core team of two editors who were supported by the expert panel. Further sources of information used were short-term consultancies and secondary literature
  4. documentation of the results in a study report
  5. drawing conclusions and designing intervention programmes during a workshop.

The Ghana study presents information relating to the yams and tomato post-production chains collected in recent years (see annex II for further details). Innovative proposals are made for the development of post-production and marketing systems through the establishment of post-harvest secretariats or working groups on the national and local (e.g. regional or district) levels. Their tasks include:

2.3.4 The Chad Study

Apart from the three country studies that were conducted to test and further develop the framework methodology, GTZ undertook the preparatory steps of a new project to promote sustainable post-production systems in Chad according to the systems approach. The task was divided into two missions. The first one focused on analysing the post-production systems of cereals and grain legumes with special emphasis on actors and institutions. During the second mission, information on relevant production issues was collected and the first project planning workshop was organised.

During these missions, the principles of the framework methodology were followed and a selection of relevant PRA tools was applied. The first study was carried out by a multidisciplinary team of two national and two international consultants. Two participatory workshops were organised to identify the commodities to be analysed and to get an overview of the institutional landscape. A PRA survey was conducted in the Sudan zone, the main agricultural production area, during which key informants and rural actors such as farmers, rural women and traders were interviewed.

The post-production systems analysis showed that major problems are already occurring at the pre-harvest stage (e.g. loss of soil fertility and high incidence of the parasitic weed Striga). After harvest, a complex of socio-economic, cultural and technical factors cause losses and other problems from which women and children suffer most. Furthermore, the political and economic framework conditions are rather discouraging for small-scale farmers, traders and other actors.

This is why the team of consultants came to the conclusion that the focus of the project proposal submitted by the Government of Chad (essentially prevention of post-production losses) is too narrow to offer any prospect of substantial and sustainable relief of the rural population's problems. As a consequence, the scope of the future project was directed towards the improvement of food security and increase of incomes in rural areas through support to agricultural production such as restitution of soil fertility, Striga control and diversification combined with the promotion of sustainable post-production systems.

2.3.5 Conclusions

The application of the framework methodology enables planners, decision-makers and development practitioners to obtain reliable information on various aspects of post-production systems and to take informed decisions based on it. However, the three country studies have shown that constraints in post-production systems remain difficult to analyse. The reasons for these constraints vary depending on local circumstances. Some observations and conclusions on these difficulties and recommendations for overcoming them are presented in this section.

The Kenya study has described the strengths and weaknesses of the field survey methodology. The strengths relate in the first place to well-known features of the PRA concept like multidisciplinary background, cost-effectiveness, participation, creation of awareness, flexibility and a strong emphasis on the gender role perspective. The weaknesses described seem to be a consequence of certain deficits in planning, execution and data analysis during the study (e.g. insufficient validation of prior research results, limited perspective on the development prospects of technological innovations, limited representativeness and problems in quantifying data).

As a consequence, some information needs have remained after the study. They relate to the future role of the sweet potato in urban consumption patterns and to its substitutive relationship with other food commodities. The analysis of food crop demand patterns by the use of time-series and cross-sectional data is recommended. An interdisciplinary working group has been established within the Ministry of Agriculture charged with the follow-up process, with particular reference to matters outside the mandate of this Ministry (e.g. road construction and maintenance, marketing, packaging).

The Zambia study comes to the conclusion that FAO Steps 1 and 2 of the conceptual framework and to some extent also Step 3 can largely be addressed through desk top study and examination of secondary data. The use of information from previously conducted studies is recommended to improve the efficiency of studies in Step 4. According to the editor, care is needed, however, in interpreting secondary data.

The editor of the report states that the framework proved useful in guiding the analysis of the post-production system, particularly in formulating checklists of points to consider and questions to be answered. The report from Zambia also makes the point that post-production constraints should be considered in the context of the whole crop system, including production. This recommendation has been confirmed by the findings of the Chad study.

The Ghana study concluded that the establishment of an expert panel had proven very helpful. The multi-author approach resulted in a broad view, but led to duplication and overlapping. Editing was very time-consuming. Briefer treatment of the general post-production and marketing characteristics of different groups of products on a country scale, is recommended. Further studies should screen existing measures and projects in order to streamline efforts.

Comparative analysis of the country studies has proved that the framework methodology is useful for collecting information on the whole post-production chain. It may also raise local awareness and point to possible areas of research and intervention. But the evaluation has also shown that the systems analysis approach is particularly promising in countries which obviously have urgent problems and where local participation can be expected to be strong. It is essential to the success of the exercise to have a local promoter.

In all the studies, the focus was on the main actors. Additionally, government officials have been involved as indirect actors. Supporting actors have been generally neglected. More attention should be paid to the fact that some operations, especially processing, depend to a large extent on well-functioning equipment and machinery. It is well known that lack of maintenance and poor repair are often behind the break-down of technical installations and the subsequent interruption of post-production chains, as reported for hammermills in the Zambia study.

Questions relating to the sectional areas between the post-production system and other systems should be given more attention. It is obvious that actors' decisions are not only influenced by post-production aspects but also by other systems that touch their professional activities or their lives. A farmer who simultaneously produces crops and breeds cattle, for example, should be given the opportunity to comment on the relative importance of both activities and their contribution to subsistence, income, prestige and other factors. Another example are women who run the farm because their husbands have migrated to work in industry. Such farms are managed differently from the ones where farming provides the only income for the whole family.

Doubts have been expressed about the feasibility of developing entire post-production systems. Experience in Ghana of promoting the exportation of cassava chips indicates, however, that the complete chain from the farmer to the importer in Europe can be analysed and partially improved. The same applies to tomato processing, where road construction, setting up of processing facilities, foundation of and support to marketing co-operatives, contract farming and the distribution of loans have been integrated into one project.

One possible avenue might be to integrate post-production systems development into wider systems approaches like rural development efforts. Another relevant field for the application of post-production systems analysis is in pre-feasibility studies such as the one conducted in Chad.

1 Some products are harvested before maturity