What challenges does research on smallholder inclusion currently face?
A consortium of organizations hosted a learning and research workshop, Seas of Change, focused on scaling inclusive agri-food markets on 11-13 April 2012 in the Hague. Mark Lundy, leader of DAPA’s Linking Farmers to market section was one of the participants.
In a short interview he reflects on current challenges of the concept of inclusiveness.
“We are talking about producers between a tenth and a quarter of a hectare per family that are able to supply, in a consistent fashion, high quality, fresh or frozen vegetables or fruits to demanding consumers in the US and Europe. This is a pretty inclusive system and it works from a business and a social perspective. What all those products have in common though, is that they are of relatively high value. So, when talking about inclusiveness we need to be clear about what’s the relationship between inclusiveness and the type of product and market that we are serving?” However, there is “a lack of clarity on the usefulness of small holder inclusion, especially in reaching out towards the poorest.” This issue is interconnected with a significant “knowledge gap on how the inclusive businesses can benefit informal chain actors in local and national wet markets. One reason why the research community is struggling to resolve those issues is the lack of “knowledge sharing platforms that facilitate exchanging ideas around inclusive businesses”. We have to ask ourselves what do we need to learn about, what do we need to understand better? Platforms like the one of Seas of Change enhance cross-sector thinking between businesses, NGO’s and the research community, to work towards a common learning agenda on inclusivity and related challenges.
Other videos from participants in the Seas of Change event are also available on the event website. We found those from David Rosenberg of ECOM and Jan-Kees Vis of Unilever to be particularly interesting.
You can download a short PDF document with initial outputs from the workshop here