Senior Expert at PIM : Policies, Institutions and Markets


Flagship 3 of PIM (inclusive and efficient value chains) seeks to increase the engagement of smallholders in value chains, in order to increase their income, improve their livelihoods, and trigger “intensification” of their farm management. In this flagship we try to (i) identify bottlenecks for the development of inclusive and efficient value chains, (ii) identify and test technological and institutional innovations to overcome these bottlenecks, and (iii) pioneer innovative approaches to bring the lessons-learned to scale. This implies an integrated and coordinated plan of action that involves multiple clusters of activities, and extensive collaboration with other CG institutes and public and private partners.

In addition to the research that we do within the Flagship, we seek to play a coordinating role across the CRPs. Most CRPs have flagships or clusters devoted to value chain analysis. PIM is the logical place to act as a clearing house for lessons learned, and possibly coordination of research. We will organise a cross-CRP workshop on value chains in Wageningen, in October 2018.

I am one of the two co-leaders of Flagship 3. I provide intellectual leadership and academic input, prioritise research activities, and am one of the guardians of coherence within the Flagship (keeping an eye on within and across CRP coherence as well). In addition I am leading specific research projects on inclusive and efficient value chains in Africa – supervising three PhD students funded via PIM.

The SEP grant will enable me to allocate more time and effort to Flagship leadership and coordination. The past few years we have started up several new research projects, continued existing ones from PIM I, and terminated others. Our activities extend across different countries and involve multiple research centers (and researchers), crops, and methodological approaches. Seeking coherence in the research agenda is a very ambitious task: it requires discussions with project leaders of ongoing research activities, and strategic investments to “fill holes” in the programme. Moreover, not all research proposed (and executed) within the CGIAR network is of equal quality. I see it as my role and responsibility to make sure that research designs selected for funding in Flagship 3 meet high standards in terms of academic rigor and “depth.” This implies organising calls for proposals, selecting the most promising ones, and sometimes working with the main applicants to further improve the study design. None of this is easy.

The grant would allow me to increase my involvement with PIM to 0.5 FTE, expanding my ability to steer and shape the joint research agenda, and hopefully contribute towards raising the (academic) standards of the research that we do. The past year I have organised two Flagship 3 workshops in Wageningen, involving all the key researchers. This allows us to stay informed about the individual projects, and discuss how the work that we do “hangs together.” As mentioned above, this Fall I will organise a cross-CRP workshop in Wageningen. The requested grant would enable me to take these responsibilities more seriously, and expand my role as a flagship leader. It would also enable me to become more involved as a researcher, tapping into the potential of my (graduate) students and colleagues in Wageningen.

I hope that this would result in better diagnostics, more careful and rigorous testing of innovations (pilots), and additional insights in scaling.

The activities of the SEP grantee will therefore focus on:
• Contribution to further operationalization of the conceptual design of value chain analysis;

• Contribution to enhanced coordination and coherence within PIM Flagship 3, and across value chain flagships in different CRPs;

• Contribution to academic rigor in research conducted on inclusive and efficient value chains;

• Participation in innovative research on inclusive and efficient value chains. Currently this involves work on storage, innovative financing, and imperfect competition at various stages of the value chain. Additional projects are prepared.


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. ir. E.H. Bulte

Affiliated with

Wageningen University & Research, Maatschappijwetenschappen, Ontwikkelingseconomie (DEC)


01/03/2019 to 30/08/2021