The aim of this paper is to operationalise the concept of agricultural value chain and value chain governance in order to identify entrance points for the Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) programme. Interventions are intended social processes that aim to affect the lives of individuals and groups, and to enable and constrain their social strategies (Long and van der Ploeg 1989). Many of these interventions are implemented by the private sector actors that are involved in African value chains. The analytical framework presented in this paper, based on a rough typology of institutional arrangements as archetypical social sub-systems, helps to unpack some of the coordination and governance mechanisms that commonly exist between producers, traders, processors, retailers, consumers, and other intermediation agents in the agricultural sector. Unpacking this can help delimit the social systems in agriculture where entrance points for actions to address the issue of children’s harmful work (CHW) are most likely to be found or can be developed. We provide no fixed theoretical perspective to analyse the relations within these social systems (and their relations to higher-level social systems) but have limited ourselves to the description of the main elements of each social sub‑system. Political economy, feminist, behavioural, technographic, institutional, emancipatory and other analytical perspectives are all needed in tandem to explore and understand the power and social relations within and between them, how they are connected and overlapping, and the room for change to support children’s wellbeing.