Clusters and networks as enablers of product and process innovation
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One of the strategies adopted in the Philippines to facilitate a more consistent supply of good quality vegetables from smallholder farmers is the clustring approach, whereby a small group or cluster of smallholder farmers is organized to deliver a pre-determined amount of produce to a focal customer (CRS-Philippines, 2007). Developed from the CIAT Territorial Approach, the CRS Eight Step Clustring Approach for Agro-enterprise Development employs a participatory action learning process, where the cluster members proactively plan their production to meet the specific quality and delivery requirements of their focal customer. The clustering approach is a strategy which allows smallholder farmers to access higher value chains. Evidence is provided to demonstrate how several of the clusters facilitated have utilised the skills and knowledge acquired in servicing their focal customer to develop new products for new markets, to adopt alternative low cost systems of production to reduce their reliance on external inputs, to reduce postharvest losses and product deterioration through improved packaging, to improve access to low cost community-based loans and to take advantage of local and national government grants that provide production inputs and support the development of community-based infrastructure projects.
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