What works when scaling inclusive agri-food markets

What works when scaling inclusive agri-food markets

11-13 April 2012. Scheveningen, the Netherlands. From Islands of Success to Seas of Change
“What works when scaling inclusive agri-food markets?”

The last decade has seen an explosion in value chain initiatives, and sustainable and ethical sourcing has become an accepted aspect of business strategy. Non-governmental organisations are working with businesses to link small producers to markets; round tables on global commodity chains are focusing on sector-wide approaches; a broad range of certification schemes are in place; and ‘bottom of the pyramid’ concepts are emerging. Experience is developing rapidly but insights often remain fragmented and the lessons that need to be learned are only slowly being taken on board.

The big question for the next few decades is how to build on these developments to achieve the measure of change that is needed, and quickly. It is necessary to assess when, where and why some efforts remain islands of success while others indicate a sea change. The inspirational examples that are emerging need to be scrutinised, and we need to assess which ideas can be adapted, mutated and cross-pollinated. It is necessary to consult with those who have most experience to see where they believe the opportunities lie for putting good ideas into practice.

100 international partners attended this learning workshop. Coordinated by the Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation, this was the first step in an initiative to scale up the agri-food market – in a way that includes all players. The aim of the workshop was to take a step back and look at the range of promising efforts that have emerged as a result of the last decade’s experience in establishing sustainable and equitable agri-food value chains. It looked to the future, shared innovative approaches and identify high-potential options.

  1. Case study Uganda, soya – Seba Foods Malawi Ltd. and Export Trading (U) Limited from Uganda jointly took the initiative for the establishment of a soybean..
  2. Case study Uganda, cocoa & vanilla – ESCO put forward a good field organisation and extension reaching 1,791 certified organic farmers by March 2005.The project..
  3. Case study Dar Es Salaam, cashew  – Premier Cashew Industries Ltd., based in Dar Es Salaam, approached EPOPA with the interest to explore the opportunity in exports of..
  4. Case study West-African, cotton – The outreach of the cotton sub-sector in West Africa is huge: in countries like Benin, Burkina and Mali it has encompassed over..
  5. Case study Ethiopia, honey  – Ethiopia exported its first consignment of honey to the European Union (EU) in 2008 after a three year period of preparations towards..
  6. Case study Burkina Faso, shea butter – The Nununa Federation brings together 4,000 women shea producers in Burkina Faso. Shea is traditionally collected and processed by..
  7. Case study South-Sudan, cassava  – SABMiller case. This project aims to empower farmers associations and the commercialize cassava production. As a result, strong..
  8. Case study Uganda, oil seeds – IFAD case. Uganda is a very poor country with a low per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a predominantly rural population, and..
  9. Case study Tanzania, marketing systems  – IFAD case. The project’s objective is to increase rural poor people’s food security and incomes by improving the structure and..
  10. Case study Egypt, land reclamation – IFAD case. The project is considered one of the better integrated developmental poverty reduction oriented project

Commodities background review: Trend of agri-food commodities and the need to invest in inclusive markets
This background study conducted by the Seas of Change Initiative has the objective of exploring how business, with the right support from government, donors, NGOs and research can scale up inclusive agri-food market development to ensure food security for 9 billion people and help to tackle poverty. After highlighting the current trends in the main agrifood commodities in terms of production, trade and consumption, this study looks at current unbalances in supply and demand of food, focusing on the region most reliant on food import, Africa.
The study also answers the questions: Which commodities exhibit the greatest growth potential in Africa? Which agri-food commodities will remain dependent on large numbers of producers for the production base and which will be dominated by large-scale, industrialised agriculture? Which is the rationale and incentive behind investing in inclusive markets? The study builds on a review of successful experiences in the literature, on case studies received by SoC partners and on insights emerged from ongoing interviews with experts and key players in the sector (IDH,  IIED, SFL, Bunga, CGIAR, Cargill, Armajaro, Rabo Bank, Rabo foundation, Oxfam Novib, Nestlé, etc.).
A first overview is published by the Seas of Change Initiative on key lessons emerging in terms of what works when scaling up inclusive markets. The key lessons are based on findings from case studies and interviews from different commodities and can be found below. Another document is published on questions of scale, to understand inclusive business in agri-food markets. A third paper is prepared about the underlying dynamics of inclusive agri-food markets. It compiles some key data about the dynamics of global food systems and sets the scene for the commodity studies.  A fourth paper, called ‘Raising the bar’ elaborates on what global food and agri-business are saying about their sustainability goals. The four papers can be downloaded through the links below.
Background study                      Questions on scale                   Underlying dynamics                   Raising the bar

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