Value Chain Upgrading for Competitiveness and Sustainability: A Comparative Study of Tea Value Chains in Kenya, Sri Lanka and Nepal

Date period
27 February 2018

Developing countries have long exported agricultural commodities in the hopes of bringing the benefits of globalisation to the rural poor. Yet many agricultural sectors remain stuck in low-value exports with limited growth prospects and few development dividends. In this context, policymakers have sought to upgrade the terms of engagement in the global trade of commodities by shifting to higher-value exports with stronger links to the domestic economy and better sustainable development impacts. Tea value chains are an interesting case in point. Tea exports have deep historical roots in several developing countries, where production continues to support a significant portion of the population. This paper conducts a comparative analysis of the export tea value chains in Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Nepal with a focus on how policy influences chain upgrading and the implications this has for trade patterns, competitiveness, and sustainable development.