Beyond the growing of crops and raising of animals, agriculture involves the addition of value at different stages of production. This process is called value addition and it involves the chain of processes along which agricultural produce move from the producer to the final consumer. The value chain involves various actors in it, the addition of various goods and services as well as the processing of raw materials to achieve a desirable final product.
At various levels of the value chain, various processes such as production, storage, packaging and distribution are involved and every stakeholder along the chain have their specific responsibilities: the producers produce and inform the processors and markets on production quantities, locations, timing and production issues. Marketers facilitate the movement of product from producers and processors to the final consumer and they inform producers of price, quantity and quality needs, product handling and technology options. Along the value chain, there are also other enablers who assist producers in sourcing for finances, connecting the producer to a target market and also providing training on various improved technologies useful for their activities. These are the extension agents.
In crop production, value chain processes include; production from the farm, post-harvest handling, processing, sorting and grading, cooling, packaging, and also industrial processing. Adding value to agricultural products attract more revenue than just productions. Addition of value to agricultural products has also contributed immensely to the growth of countries, market places and supermarkets.
In animal production, taking cattle as a case study, one of its value-added products is milk. Extraction and production of milk from cattle has led to an increase in products derived from cattle and this has added more economic value to cattle production. Production of beef from it is another aspect of its processing and beef as a product can be further processed and packaged into products like canned beef etc.
Apart from the food products derived from agricultural produce, some produce like cassava whose food products include garri and cassava flour can also give non-edible products. Starch can be gotten from cassava for use by various clothing and textile industry. Also, ethanol can be derived for use by chemical industries. Sugar canes are also processed and sugars are derived.
Various cosmetics that are used today are gotten from the processing of agricultural products. Some plants with nice scents are also processed and perfumes of different fragrances are extracted and produced. Stationeries such as books, gums, tapes, adhesives are also obtained from the processing of agricultural products.
In the processing stage of the value chain, health products are derived as well. Medicinal plants are used to produce medicines for pharmaceutical industries. And all the processed products in value chains have their various markets available.
Occasionally, challenges are encountered in agricultural value chain processes. Common factors that contribute to these challenges are poor seeds; seeds that are not of high quality would not yield enough produce that would be enough for large scale processing. Problems encountered during post-harvest handling include unimproved techniques and also unqualified trainers for processing of products. If all these issues are properly addressed, value addition will experience a major economic boost at various levels of the agricultural sector.
Value addition is aimed at increasing the economic importance of agriculture and it has contributed to reducing losses of agricultural products as it serves to increase the quality derived from farm produce. Agricultural value chain offers opportunities for growth in markets. It also widens the level of information of the actors in the chain.