Smallholder participation in high value agro-export chains in Peru. A study of the co-evolution of technology and institutions
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[Introduction] In essence poverty is not only about lack of resources but also about the lack of opportunities. High value, tradable crops may provide opportunities to escape from what Dorward et al (2005) call a ‘low level equilibrium trap’ but as they observe there are important technological and institutional gaps that prevent small producers to produce for and transact in associated markets. The central question in this paper is how technological and institutional processes to overcome these gaps are interconnected. In these processes normally firms are the key players with a more or less active role of governments, but as Dorward and others have argued on different occasions for developing countries, NGOs can help overcome market and government failures in these processes (Dorward et al, 2003, 2005, Kydd et al, 2004, Helmsing & Knorringa, 2009) We will use a case study of a Peruvian NGO and its efforts to assist small producers to acquire technological competences and develop institutional arrangements amongst themselves and with new suppliers and buyers in new agro-export chains. These efforts concern simultaneously technological change and innovation as much as the construction of new institutional arrangements.