Collaboration between agribusiness and small farmers is becoming economically viable and the time is right for partnerships and new initiatives. This was one of the conclusions reached during the Small Farmers, Big Business brainstorming session at the European Development Days (EDD13) forum in Brussels in November 2013.
The Small Farmers, Big Business platform, initiated by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Dutch SNV, the German GIZ, the French AFD and the COLEACP network, organized the session to discuss how innovative public-private partnerships can benefit from synergies and create up-scalable business models that promote inclusive agricultural growth, as well as food and nutrition security.
Participants included Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of the Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid; Steffen Kaeser, Chief of UNIDO's Quality, Standards and Conformity Unit; and Apollo Owuor, Director for Agriculture and Corporate Affairs at the COLEACP.
The discussion revolved around agreement that so-called ‘inclusive business models’ with smallholders have created considerable interest, not only amongst donors and in the field of development cooperation but also amongst the private sector. However, the available models, including contract farming schemes, joint ventures, management contracts and new supply-chain relationships, still have a limited impact and reach.
During the session, the perspectives of smallholders were given lengthy consideration. Conclusions drawn from the discussion included recognition of the need for farmers need to organize themselves to access services, for capacity to be built up, and for farming to be promoted as a profitable business and shown to be a viable option for young people.
In terms of developing value chains, participants agreed that stakeholders need to be sure collective action will bring results, that certification tools are costly and should be combined with other tools to improve product quality, and that while public-private partnerships are the way forward to scale up, they must be market-driven and underpinned by a strong business model.
Access to finance was another key issue. Recommendations included the need for specific financial services, both short and long term – including insurance guarantee schemes and affordable loans. Book-keeping and technical assistance should be made available, and rural areas need mobile and e-banking services.
During the EDD13, the Small Farmers, Big Business platform also organized the High Level Panel titled ‘Feed the Change: Boosting Resilience, Food and Nutrition Security through Innovative Partnerships’.
Organized by the European Commission, European Development Days is one of the fastest-growing international forums on global affairs and development cooperation. Its aim is to win the hearts and minds of all stakeholders, fostering engagement and facilitating the implementation of the agenda for greater aid effectiveness.
By Charles Arthur
Posted January 2014
Interview with Marc Nolting, Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Development and Agriculture for GIZ, at the European Development Days 2013.