Institutions, Upgrading and Development: Evidence from North East Brazilian Export Horticulture

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The central concern of Global Commodity (or Value) Chain analysis is to identify upgrading possibilities for poor country (or region) producers as a mechanism for accelerating local-level development. Whilst the framework has made impressive progress in explaining how chain governance impacts upon suppliers’ upgrading opportunities it has been relatively weak in integrating local-level institutions into its analysis and policy advice. This paper addresses this weakness by focusing on the interaction between suppliers’ organisations and state development agencies in facilitating systematic upgrading for large numbers of producers. It is based on research on export grape production in North East Brazil, and finds that whilst exporters may be particularly well informed about changing market and buyer requirements, state agencies play a key role in both establishing initial conditions of production and assisting producers to overcome evolving technical gaps generated by fast-changing markets.