Think big. Go small. Adapting business models to incorporate smallholders into supply chains (2010)

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Food and beverage companies are facing a rapidly changing world. Global demand is rising as the world’s population grows. Yet the planet’s ability to meet this demand is threatened by factors such as droughts and other expected consequences of climate change, together with land degradation and biofuel production. At the same time consumers everywhere are growing more knowledgeable and concerned about the ethics of where and how their food and drink are produced. A number of innovative companies have begun integrating smallholders into their supply chains. There is evidence that this strategy can attract customers and manage supply risks. The investment by a company can be relatively modest if the company collaborates with farmers’ organisations, government, and other non-commercial actors. This approach to investment can have broader impacts on the rural sector, ensuring that trade benefits men and women farmers who are normally marginalised from wealth creation. Ensuring a smallholder sourcing programme can deliver both commercially viable products and value to the smallholder, requires a number of structural challenges to be overcome. An increasing number of new business models are emerging of global and domestic companies that have adapted to overcome these challenges. Key principles Five principles to underpin sustainable trading relationships that ensure both corporate and smallholder value:
  • Chain-wide collaboration and innovation
  • Market linkages
  • Fair and transparent governance
  • Equitable sharing of costs and risks
  • Equitable access to services
  This briefing builds on the Sustainable Food Lab work on ‘New Business Models for Sustainable Tarding relationships’ and Oxfam agricultral market programmes. Initial findings were shared at the Oxfam GB event in May 2009, ‘Business Models for a Better World’, with the briefing launched at the 2010 art of farming conference.
Language: English
Imprint: Oxfam International: Briefings for Business No 6: 2010
Series: Briefing note,