Chazuta: subnational governments and internationalization of the agro-industrial value chain
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the role and contribution of San Martin and Chazuta subnational governments in promoting development and internationalization of the cocoa and chocolate value chain from the stakeholders’ perceptions. This work was based on a qualitative approach in which information triangulation method, information processing with evaluation rubric and WebQDA software were used. The results showed that stakeholders of both value chains perceive that the subnational government’s actions taken to develop and internationalize these value chains are poorly valued and insufficient. Likewise, six internationalization barriers were identified in which two are perceived as the main limitations: low productivity levels and access to innovations and technology. These results contribute to enrich the decision-making process of political authorities and public officials from the San Martin subnational governments. Moreover, they provide information, according to the Peruvian national requirements, on the perceptions needed to rethink and improve the governmental services available, especially productive activities in the rainforest area (Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros, 2015; Wiener Fresco, 2010). This can improve or create new extension services to increase the quality of the Chazuta’s cocoa and chocolate products and to facilitate their entry into more demanding and profitable markets (Shapira, y otros, 2015). Design/methodology/approach – This paper has been developed by using a qualitative approach with an exploratory and descriptive scope. The objective was to examine a study case of how subnational governments contribute in the promotion of development and internationalization of agro-industrial value chains as alternatives to illicit crops (Hernandez, Fernandez, & Baptista, 2010). The Chazuta case was selected because it is representative of the region in terms of coca eradication and is located between two regions of high biodiversity – Cordillera Escalera Regional Conservation Area and Cordillera Azul National Park. Findings – One of the issues hindering the ability of the Chazuta cocoa and chocolate producers is based on their perception that the subnational governments’ efforts are focused on meeting already-established goals and little emphasis is placed on solving productive problems. On the other hand, at an articulation level, the most relevant efforts have been connecting the cocoa and chocolate customers to Chazuta producers through events. In spite of this, such events are not considered a permanent activity and the producers do not perceive that these mechanisms enable them to maintain these long-term trade relationships. This can be explained by the fact that Chazuta cocoa and chocolate organizations recognize that they still have incipient productive capacities to meet the foreign market’s demand. Furthermore, associations, cooperatives and SMEs are not able to maintain constant levels of production quality, except the family-based business. Knowledge and techniques provided by subnational governments and private organizations are not fully used or implemented by the associations’ members. This low level of knowledge application can be explained by cultural factors and also because the producers receive multiple and sometimes contradictory information from various providers of technology extension services. This leads to inadequate use or non-implementation of productivity improvements, thus generating a virtuous circle in which production and quality of the goods remain at low levels, which hinders their entry into demanding and profitable markets. Research limitations/implications – This paper has been developed with a qualitative approach considering an exploratory and descriptive scope. Chazuta case was selected because it is representative of the region in terms of eradication achievements and it is located between two regions of high biodiversity. A rubric is an evaluation method of individuals or organizations performance, taking into consideration the evaluator’s pre-established criteria to determine if the objectives and goals are being met. Based on these criteria, evidence and performance information is collected. Following, performance is graded based on the researcher’s predetermined criteria and finally a merit-based judgment is made on the performance. Practical implications – The results contribute to enrich decision making of political authorities and public officials from San Martin subnational governments. They provide information, according to Peruvian national requirements, on the perceptions needed to rethink and improve provided government services, especially in rainforest area productive activities. This adds up to improvement or creation of new extension services to increase the quality of Chazuta’s cocoa and chocolate products, and to facilitate their entry into more demanding and profitable markets. Social implications – The situation of San Martín region and Chazuta district is contextualized and emphasis is given to socioeconomic conditions and the value of cocoa as an alternative crop to coca. From 1980 to early 2000, Peru lived a period of generalized violence due to narcoterrorism, which had large-scale outreach in southern highland and rainforest areas. To deal with this situation, subnational governments in collaboration with international cooperation decided to consolidate agro-industrial value chains in order to generate legal income for rural populations. For this purpose, alternative crop policies were implemented and San Martin region achieved the best results. Originality/value – This fieldwork was carried out as part of the undergraduate thesis but after fieldwork, with the use of online software tool WebQDA, codes were created to systematize and quantify the collected information in the content manager. The codes were created taking into account assessment and evaluation variables. Each value represented a code referred to a performance level as perceived by Chazuta cocoa and chocolate value chains stakeholders.