Most Popular Content
Choosing an Entry Point
Embarking on an agroenterprise development project starts with selecting an entry point into the complex dynamics of a value chain. Key decisions include the level of challenge or risk to take on, and where in the process the project should begin; key factors to consider include the capabilities of the development team and of the farmers. Teams with less experience might choose a lower-risk project, while more skilled teams could take advantage of opportunities involving a riskier product or market. This publication describes several different entry strategies, and provides guidance on when each may be appropriate given different project circumstances.
Authors: Shaun Ferris, 2009
Fine Flavor Cocoa in Ghana
Reaching High Value Markets
In 2008 it was estimated that cocoa producing households in Ghana had a mean per capita daily income from cocoa of US$0.42 out of a total income of US$ 0.63. Fine flavor cocoa production has the potential to raise farmer incomes substantially, but requires specialized skills and technology and direct market linkages. This case describes a collaboration among international NGOs, Ghanaian government agencies, and the chocolate industry to: 1) increase growers’ capacity to grow high-quality, fine flavor cocoa, 2) develop a super-premium brand of cocoa that is recognized worldwide, and 3) to work with buyers to develop a transparent supply chain that delivers much of the premium back to the growers. Over the course of the project, the team must overcome key technological and organizational challenges.
Principal Authors: Stephanie Daniels, Peter Laderach, and Melissa Paschall, May 2012
Measuring Performance in Smallholder Sugar
Several Food Lab member companies have joined forces in order to gain a better understanding of the realities faced by small-scale sugar cane farmers. The effort—led by Food Lab staff—is collecting farm level data from certified fair trade, organic smallholder farmers in Paraguay.
This project is designed to accomplish two goals:
1) provide greater insight on the livelihood and challenges of cane farmers; and
2) test the concept of a lightweight, cost effective set of core metrics for smallholders.
An initial baseline survey of 45 farmers in 3 organic, fair trade certified cooperatives was completed in April 2012 by SFL and local experts in collaboration with Fairtrade International’s Paraguay staff. Initial findings showed fairly low food insecurity. The farmers’ average income was over $10/day, yet only 50% of farmers were earning over the national poverty line of $4900/year. The average area planted in cane was 5 hectares within a wide range of farm sizes (from 2 to 63 hectares). Average yields were only 70% of potential yields, despite very high levels of training and best practice adoption.
In a series of focus groups, farmer organization leaders emphasized that better access to training on farming best practices, improved seed and affordable, high-quality, organic inputs were key to improving productivity and livelihood for their members.
Interviews with the processing mill and exporting company revealed that access to efficient transport to move the cane from the remote smallholder farms to the mill was a significant barrier to sustainability in the system.
Additional surveys will be completed in early 2013 with generous support from the Ford Foundation. These surveys will reach a larger number of farmers and include interviews with hired cane workers to understand the livelihood profile of this group—as workers are often the most vulnerable population in an agricultural system.
Companies are learning from this project via the Food Lab's Values Based Sourcing peer learning group which includes Annie's Inc., Ben & Jerry's, Clif Bar & Co, Theo Chocolate, Stonyfield Farm, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Sodexo and Unilever. This effort is part of a larger body of work to research and support the development of core performance metrics that can be embedded into supply chains to track livelihood performance of smallholders over time. Results will be shared with other companies and organizations conducting this work at an event in December as well as at the Sustainable Food Lab Annual Leadership Summit, April 2013.
Contract Farming in Developing Countries
Contract Farming in Developing Countries: A Review
Contract farming can be understood as a firm lending “inputs” — such as seed, fertilizer, credit or extension — to a farmer in exchange for exclusive purchasing rights over the specified crop. It is a form of vertical integration within agricultural commodity chains so that the firm has greater control over the production process and final product. Contract farming is attracting considerable academic and policy attention. For example, while academic work in the 1980s and 1990s offered a mixed assessment of the extent to which contract farming engaged with and benefited smallholders, recent literature offers a much more positive interpretation of smallholder participation. Moreover, recent high-level policy reports, such as the World Development Report 2008 on Agriculture for Development, and UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2009 on Transnational Corporations, Agricultural Production and Development, offer optimistic appraisals of this form of institutional innovation.
This review screened the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO) online contract farming database, conducted bibliographic searches using Agricola, Econlit, JSTOR, the Web of Science and Eldis, to compile 100 papers on contract farming, the majority of which have been published since 2007 (see Appendices 3 - 5); included in this group were 12 additional studies pinpointed by the author and the client (AFD).
Using these studies as a base, this review discusses the global and regional trends that are driving contract farming in developing countries, and describes meso- and micro-level conceptual and theoretical perspectives – from transaction-cost approaches to value-chain governance – that help to explain why contract farming is increasingly preferred to other forms of exchange.
Author: Martin Prowse, Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp
Inclusive Improvement, Standards and Smallholders
Inclusive Improvement, Standards and Smallholders
Taking Stock and Moving On
HIVOS is working to achieve sustainable development and poverty reduction using a simplified generic management system as a tool. This effort has been closely monitored in pilot projects involving groups of smallholders in coffee and vegetable production in Kenya and South Africa. This book reflects on HIVOS’s experiences and summarizes its successes and challenges. It argues that a sufficient basis has been found for continuation and possibly scaling up of the efforts, and it proposes a stylized interaction model as the way forward.
Authors: Coen Van Beuningen and Peter Knorringa