Sustainable intensification and market linkages in banana and mango value chains in Uganda and Kenya


Sustainable intensification (SI) provides a potential pathway to meet the growing demands for food. However, in practice adoption of many promising SI solutions remains disappointing, amongst others due to poor linkages to input and output markets and high investment risks. In the STEP-UP project, we aim to implement and assess sustainable intensification (SI) and market linkage (ML) strategies to enable small farm enterprises (SFEs) to step up towards food and nutrition security, sustainable development and income generation. The project focuses on banana and mango food value chains in Uganda and Kenya. General research questions include: 

1. What are effective SI and ML strategies for stepping up in banana and mango value chains that maximize multiple stakeholders aspirations and minimize trade-offs in the sustainable development domains?

2. What information is needed for effective and efficient scaling up and scaling out of SI and ML strategies?

Potential MSc thesis topics within the STEP-UP project involve:

-      Use of farm typologies and detailed farm characterizations to understand farm heterogeneity and to assess the interactions between mango and banana and other farm components. The understanding of the socio-ecological context of farming will form the basis for tailoring of promising ‘stepping-up’ innovations. 

-      Assessment of the effects of stepping-up in the value chain through an ex-anteassessment of the sustainability of SI and ML strategies and their impacts on livelihoods and food security. 

-      Trade-off analysis across sustainability domains and scales (farm, community) to determine requirements and limitations of the implemented strategies. 


You will work in the context of the STEP-UP project in collaboration with ZALF (Germany), and many partners (research institutes, NGOs) in Uganda and Kenya. 


Students with an interest in systems analysis and participatory research. Relevant courses are Analysing Sustainability of Farming Systems and Systems Analysis & Simulation. 

Location and Period

Wageningen, Uganda or Kenya. Projects can start any time


Katrien Descheemaeker          0317−486102                

Gerrie van de Ven                   0317-482140                 

Esther Ronner