Work in this cluster will integrate the outcomes from cluster 1 (‘demand’) and cluster 2 (‘supply’) into analytical system models of biomass webs on different scales, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the entire value web as a system and identifying starting points for increasing the system productivity. The purpose of these models is to understand a) the functioning of existing biomass webs in biophysical (i.e. agronomic, ecological and technical), economic and institutional terms; b) the impact of these biomass webs on the economies of the countries under consideration; c) the interactions between (increased) biomass production in Africa and the world markets for food and non-food biomass; and d) the design of improved systems for value innovation and productivity/efficiency gains.
Building on these approaches, the linkages between biomass-related value chains will be delineated, mapped and modeled to identify scope for high return system investments (public and private investments, including environmental externalities), rather than isolated value chain investments. The expected outcomes here are transactions costs as well as waste and loss cutting value web enhancements. Value web analysis and modeling will substantiate research activities in clusters 4-6 and also allow running scenarios of innovative biomass webs based on assumptions and input fed back from research in clusters 4-6.
The work package “Labor markets” analyzes the effects of African biomass expansion on rural labor markets and incomes in the project countries. The structural changes due to biomass web transformations will be analyzed (employment effects, skills demanded, effects of increased labor productivity, wages and income effects, effects on food security (access to food). Land and labor are the most important production factors in SSA’s agriculture. Processes such as expansion of cropland driven by population growth are intimately linked to the functioning of labor markets. Biomass production can have effects on employment, income generation and therefore food security.
Work in the work package “Value web systems modeling” uses moderated, software-supported stakeholder workshops to develop, in participation with partners, quantitative and qualitative system models of biomass webs. This approach has proven its merits for developing a detailed view of biomass value webs, and identifying causalities in the webs and links between the actors, based on expert and local knowledge. The qualitative systems model will be developed into a quantitative model to synthesize the project results generated through economic and biophysical modeling to generate validated quantitative results for the value webs. Systems thinking is a powerful approach to capture the functioning of underlying causalities and remote relationships in complex systems such as agriculture/food systems under increased globalization.