Participatory Market Chain Approach


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Impetus for Innovation

The Participatory Market Chain Approach (PMCA) is a methodology developed by the Papa *Andina Initiative [1] within the International Potato Center (CIP) and INCOPA (Spanish acronym for Project for Innovation and Competitiveness of Peru's Potato Sector) to link small-scale farmers to competitive markets. The process involves various production chain actors such as researchers, farmers, private companies, restaurants, representatives from the gastronomy sector and institutions for development.


Purpose of the PMCA

The PMCA framework was developed as a response to the lack of coordination in market chains. It works by promoting inclusivity and interaction between market chain actors to improve the lines of communication and promote mutual learning. The purpose of the process is to stimulate innovation and generate market opportunities for small-scale farmers.

The following diagram demonstrates the potential of cultivating an environment that fosters interactions between participating market chain actors. The PMCA framework sets to create a 'virtuous circle' that will improve the development environment of rural areas. This will foster technological, commercial, and institutional innovation, giving rise to the empowerment of local actors, market chain competitiveness and, ultimately, sustainable rural development [1].


How it works?

The PMCA method is guided by market demands. A facilitator works with the various actors in three phases:

Phase 1: A learning stage where stakeholders are identified and key problems discussed. A rapid market survey (semi-structured interview) is conducted that includes key representatives of each stage of the selected market chain to understand the problems, needs and ideas for improving the chain's competitiveness. At the end of this phase participants are separated into thematic groups based on the survey results.

Phase 2: An analysis of the various opportunities/solutions is performed. In this phase the facilitator tries to build trust and mutual learning among participating actors. Technical and market studies are also performed during this stage to develop a work plan for exploiting opportunities in phase 3.

Phase 3: Innovations( new products, technologies or institutions) are developed and deployed.

Originally applied to the production chain of native potatoes in the Andes, the PMCA method has been extended to other production chains such as coffee, milk and fruit. It is also being applied to sweet potato and vegetables in Africa and Asia.[2]


The PMCA has achieved marked success in realizing its objectives. Its use in the native potato value chain in Ecuador and Peru has helped to empower smallholder farmers, boosting incomes and encouraging strategic and innovative thinking to further expand its reach. Its use is also not restricted to the Andes, but has been the foundation of CIP projects (as well as other R&D institutions) in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Examples of the success of the PMCA framework is demonstrated by these case studies:


  1. Bernet, Thomas, Graham Thiele, and Thomas Zschocke (2006). "The Participatory Market Chain Approach: A User Guide." Centro Internacional de la Papa. p.2
  2. Bernet Thomas, Andre Devaux et al. (2008). "The Participatory Market Chain Approach: Stimulating pro-poor market-chain innovation." Institutional Learning and Change, Brief 21. p.2.

External links

  • "Innovaciones Para El Desarrollo Sostenible." Papa Andina, 2012. Web. 16 Jan. 2013. <>.
  • Innovative technologies: Organic pest control methods; Good practices for producing tunta
  • Innovative institutions: Platforms that involve the participation of production chain actors.