Building Sustainable Value Chains Based In Local Biodiversity

Published: 13 November 2017
Last edited: 13 November 2017

Runa works to build sustainable value chains for innovative products based in local biodiversity. Runa focuses on products that are emblematic of local culture and have a history of use and sustainable production among the indigenous communities we work with. Runa supports local producers to access a variety of market opportunities that balance value-added activities, stable market access, and the ability to sell any excess production locally. Runa works with communities to create spaces for smallholder farmers to turn traditional productive systems into sustainable livelihood opportunities.


Management planning
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

Runa’s success in developing sustainable value chains can be attributed to collaboration with locals to utilize their vast knowledge of agricultural and non-timber forest products and production techniques and the existing demand in international markets for novel and exotic products. Though new value chains require investments of time and resources, Runa has been able to provide financial and capacity building support and assume risks that otherwise might incur to farmers and impede their participation or the success of the project.

Lessons learned

In order to create sustainable value chains based in biodiversity, Runa recognizes the importance of working directly with producers to develop strategies and formalize best practices for small holder farmers. Our analysis shows that in the beginning years of market development for a new crop, it is unlikely that market forces alone will be able to incentivize ecological and socially sustainable production, especially as dictated by the Fair Trade and USDA organic standards.  Additional support is necessary to cover the costs required to achieve social and ecological impacts while economic sustainability develops. We have also learned that high demand and stable prices are necessary for farmers to invest in adopting new management practices to improve production. A farmer’s access to a stable market and confidence that they will be able to sell their crop makes them more likely to take the risk of experimenting with new techniques without the fear of economic loss from an income generating activity.

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