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Fair trade or foul: using value chain analysis to understand power and governance in the Southern African Devil’s Claw\ud industry

By Ben Bennett


Devil's Claw is the name given to a wild-harvested plant found in certain areas of southern Africa which has anti-inflammatory properties of particular benefit to the elderly (for example in the treatment of arthritis). It has been estimated that there are approximately 10,000 gatherers of Devil's Claw in southern Africa who are also among the poorest and most vulnerable of its communities. Furthermore, a value chain has formed over time which seems to have resulted not only in significantly reduced terms of trade for the gatherers but also environmental degradation as a result of over harvesting.\ud \ud In 2003 a group of government and non-state representatives formed the Devil's Range State Working Group (DRSWG) comprising representatives from the Kalahari eco-zone: Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe and RTFP is now working with them to promote improved livelihoods for the gatherers through enhancements in the value chain for their product.\ud \ud This paper is a feasibility study, which was carried out and which identified what causes low prices at the level of the harvester and what might be done to promote a value chain which is more equitable. A secondary objective of the feasibility study was to better understand how the power and governance of value chains limits the potential benefits of regional and international trade integration.\ud \ud Initial conclusions were that value chains should be upgraded and traceability systems introduced through 'stewardship' contracts entered into between regional exporters, traders, permit issuing authorities and harvesters. The enforcement of sustainable harvesting on a rotational basis will also be important and it may be necessary to agree a limit on the supply if the region's harvesters are to have any influence on the buyers

Topics: HF, HD
Publisher: Regional Trade Facilitation Programme / Natural Resources Institute
Year: 2006
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