Agricultural Value Chains in Developing Countries

Course content

Development of the agricultural sector is recognized as an important factor in the economic growth of most developing countries. As a consequence of the increasing globalization and internationalization of markets, farmers and agribusiness enterprises in developing countries are becoming increasingly integrated in global value chains. The recognition of the importance of the agricultural sector, including agribusinesses, has led to a growing interest among governments and development agencies in supporting business development and integration of farmers in markets. Local farmers and agribusinesses are offered new opportunities by increasing urbanization and globalization; however, participating in local as well as global markets is not without challenges as farmers are often faced with many institutional and economic barriers.

Professionals working in the agricultural sector need to understand the inherent complexity of agriculture-based value chains and the dynamic interaction among different types of actors. In this course we aim to provide the participants with knowledge and skills to analyze agricultural value chain development in developing countries. The course will address the following main topics:

  • Development and the nature and role of the agricultural sector in developing economies and development

  • Different concepts of agricultural value chains

  • Different value chain analysis approaches for value chain development and research

  • Value-chain trade-related issues such as value addition, value distribution, transaction cost, and innovation and upgrading

  • Value-chain management-related issues such as chain governance, institutional setting and enabling environment, the roles of civil society, private sector and the State, contract farming

  • Value chain intervention from different actors including NGOs, and businesses (e.g. international traders, wholesalers and retailers)

  • Strategies for enhancing smallholders’ access to markets including different types of social and commercial organization, such as associations, partnerships and outgrowing schemes

  • Gender, environment and poverty in the agriculture and agribusiness development

  • Value-chain research methodology

By focusing on agricultural value chains analysis, the course will target students that want to obtain an understanding of the mechanisms regulating agribusiness in developing countries. The process will include mapping and characterizing agricultural-based value chain, barriers to entry, value added and distribution, upgrading rents, chains governances and critical factors in the enabling environment. The course will be useful for professionals working in international agricultural development organizations, donor organizations, public agencies, national extension services, agribusiness development services, and private agribusiness enterprises.


MSc Programme in Agricultural Development
MSc Programme in Agricultural Economics
MSc Programme in Sustainable Development in Agriculture (Agris Mundus)

Learning outcome

After completing the course the students should be able to:


  • Describe and define theoretical agribusiness related terminology
  • Refer theoretical streams of the value chain literatures
  • Show overview of major value chain analysis approaches and their application
  • Reflect on the complexity of institutional and management dynamics of the agricultural sector in developing countries
  • Describe the role of agriculture in economic development in developing countries



  • Collect and process relevant information for value chain analysis
  • Reason about the institutional and management dynamics in the agricultural and agribusiness sector 
  • Discuss policy and management tools for upgrading and developing agriculture and agribusiness
  • Discuss the feasibility of interventions for upgrading and developing agricultural value chains
  • Communicate ideas for agricultural value chain analysis development in developing countries to stakeholders
  • Learn in an interactive learning environment



  • Analyse the economic importance of agriculture in a developing country economy
  • Apply relevant theories to analyse complex institutional and agribusiness systems
  • Apply the value chain analyses approaches to design upgrading interventions
  • Analyse and identify potential improvements of the institutional environment for supporting agricultural value chains
  • Make decision on theories to use and argue for the choice of the decision as well as self-reflection and assessment on learning    

The course will include a combination class lectures and discussions, guest lectures, individual and group exercises, and student presentations. Student will be working in groups analysing a selected value chain case through a number of sub-assignments. Each group present results from the group project and develops a written report based in the sub-assignments.

To be announced in the absalon

There are no prerequisites.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, made during the block
Oral examination, 30 minutes
The group project written report is based on the group work must be handed in before the oral exam. The group project report will be assessed and marked before the oral exam. In the oral exam, each student has a maximum of 30 minutes available. During the oral examination the student will be asked to elaborate and discuss specific issues related to the group project. The final grade is calculated as an average of the grading of the Group project report (50%) and of the oral exam (50%). Students pass if the average grade is passed.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Fullfilment of Learning Outcome is required to obtain the grade 12


Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 30
  • Tutoring
  • 10
  • Theory exercises
  • 30
  • Project work
  • 80
  • Preparation
  • 44
  • Exam
  • 12
  • English
  • 206