Seas of change: joint measurement for smallholder inclusion

At the “Inclusive Business Models” workshop of the Seas of Change network on February 12 in Amsterdam, 50 experts in the domain of smallholder inclusion and inclusive agribusiness discussed challenges and solutions to go from islands of success to seas of change. Participants represented international companies as well as NGOs, intermediaries and researchers. Christina Tewes-Gradl contributed insights from Endeva’s research and practice.

In a discussion around the role of lead firms, one take away was that one of the main success factors for projects around inclusive agribusiness, namely cross-sector partnerships, were also one of the main hindrances to scale. These partnerships are complex and negotiated afresh every time, resulting in unique solutions. Hence, they take a long time to create and arrangements from one partnership can not easily be replicated in another situation with different partners.

A step towards greater efficiency and faster learning in smallholder inclusion could be a joint measurement framework. A first draft of such a framework, with a short list of simple indicators, was presented by the sustainable Food Lab and CDI Wageningen. If major industry players could collectively support such a framework, local smallholder aggregators, such as cooperatives or traders, could collect data and provide it to all customers, thus reducing the burden of measurement for everyone in the system (much like what happened in the textiles industry).

The Seas of Change operates as an open network to drive scale and impact around smallholder inclusion.