JICA Research Institute

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Working Papers

No.18 Challenge for the OVOP Movement in Sub-Saharan Africa —Insights from Malawi, Japan and Thailand—

This paper compares the One Village One Product (OVOP) movements of Japan, Thailand, and Malawi to examine their similarities and differences and to provide Sub-Sahara African countries that are adopting the OVOP approach with measures necessary to overcome existing constraints. The OVOP movement encourages the mobilization of local human, material, and cultural resources to create value-added products and services for domestic and external markets. However, the Thai and Malawian OVOP efforts differ from the Japanese OVOP programme in that the initiative spurring their adoption was taken by their central governments and in their emphasis on economic, rather than social purposes. We assess and compare the effectiveness of OVOP approaches in the three countries. With respect to Malawi, we find that OVOP has helped to improve productivity in some cases, changed the value chain structure in other cases, provided market access through labelling and reached many thousands of households. This study suggests that, in order to make OVOP take off in Africa, prompt action is necessary on several fronts. First, spatial connectivity needs to be improved so that OVOP producers can participate in national and global value chains. Brand-making and e-commerce could also be promising areas as demonstrated by Thai success. African countries will need further foreign cooperation in financing and management training. In order to use limited resources effectively, however, stakeholders must coordinate their activities closely. Finally, we need to introduce social indicators (such as women’s empowerment), in addition to economic ones to assess the effectiveness of the OVOP movement.

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