As in every other year, our institute members and students participate in the Tropentag conference. Like other major events in the unprecedented year of 2020, the conference was shifted to be held virtually. This year, beside a student who won the photo competition of Tropentag, our doctoral candidate, La Thi Tham, participated and presented her poster in the session “Markets – Marketing – Value Chains”. In the same session, Alexander Koch, who conducted his master thesis research within the WoodCluster project, also contributed his poster presentation.
Both Tham and Alexander focused on the value chain of wood products, as the name of the session suggests. Tham compared the financial and economic performance of wood products in Central Vietnam, while Alexander explored collective action opportunities to upgrade the value chain position of small-scale furniture enterprises in southern Ethiopia. In participating, Tham and Alexander had to pre-record their presentation. During the session, participants and fellow presenters had the opportunity to ask questions and exchange insights, and some lessons learned are as follows.
Collective action was a common recommendation or success factor of the studies presented in the session. For instance, membership in an association of grasshopper retailers in Uganda helped members have an income during the off-season. Farmers in a farmers’ group in the cocoa value chain in Uganda were more aware than non-members about organic farming practices. In retrospect, the sessions were quite short and the time after each presentation only allowed for 1-2 questions. Nonetheless, the other presentations were very interesting and the virtual Tropentag conference still enabled meaningful exchange, especially for young professionals.
By Kendisha S. Hintz, with the support of Alexander Koch and La Thi Tham