SE125 Strengthening Smallholder Food Systems. Productive Alliances - Scalable Solutions


  • World Bank Group - Agriculture Global Practice, Latin America and Caribbean Region
  • FAO
  • Norway
  • Norwegian Church Aid

More than 820M people were food insecure in 2018. By focusing on sustainable food systems, we approach the issue of food insecurity by looking at aspects of, and activities from farm to consumption. This event will present scalable, tested and innovative models that contributes to sustainable food systems, and innovations securing that interventions are inclusive.

Productive Alliances (PAs) are a strategic approach aiming to link several core agents (smallholder producers, buyers, technical assistance providers, and commercial financial institutions) through three core activities linked to producer's needs (productive investment, technical assistance, and business dev.). The PA model promotes the integration of smallholders into value chains, enhancing their livelihoods and reducing inequality. In this regard it contributes significantly to the achievement of several UN-SDGs, notably Goal 1 "No poverty," Goal 2 "Zero hunger," and Goal 10 "Reduced inequalities" among those most vulnerable in the agriculture sector. After two decades of successfully implementing the PA model in the Latin American and Caribbean region, there is growing interest in bringing innovation to the existing model to leverage diverse financing arrangements, technological advancements, and attention to environmental and social sustainability. The integration of aspects related to diversified production, value addition, youth, women and minorities inclusion, digital technologies and innovations in terms of products and processes will be vital to this Productive Alliances "2.0" model. Innovation in economic inclusion models will be highlighted.

Micro Investing is designed for the smallholder farmer to achieve two things: first profitability, then growth. An affordable "Micro Investment Kit" introduces modern agriculture to the smallholder, boosting productivity and profitability to allow some of the profit to be reinvested for growth several times a year. Incremental investments, as low as $10, form a chain of small successes that create exponential growth and become an upgrade path to commercial farming. Increased yield reduces the pressure to avail more farm-land as the population grows, while climate-smart features and sustainable management of natural resources are built into the program.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Aksel Jakobsen, State Secretary of International Development, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Preeti S. Ahuja, Practice Manager, Latin America and the Caribbean Region, Agriculture & Food Global Practice, World Bank Group
  • Francisco Posas, General Coordinator of the COMRURAL project, Honduras
  • Oscar Serrano, COMRURAL project beneficiary
  • Roberto López, Beneficiary and manager of organization within COMRURAL, Honduras
  • Ana Paula de la O Campos, 
Strategic Advisor, Reducing Rural Poverty Programme/SP3-FAO
  • Manas Roshan, FishMARC, India
  • Dagfinn Høybråten,  General Secretary of Norwegian Church Aid, Norway
  • Driana Lwanda,  Head of Programmes at African Institute of Corporate Citizenship, Malawi
  • Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA (Moderator)

Main themes/issues discussed

Smallholders are critical players as we pursue zero hunger. They are the majority of food producers in most developing agricultural countries.

The Productive Alliance model was presented as an approach to promote effective food systems that permit inclusive, sustainable, resilient development. The key actors, smallholder producers, need to be provided with the technical knowledge, physical inputs and financial support to achieve multivariate objectives relating to c decent jobs, food and nutrition security, improved climate resilience and inclusion of women and marginalized groups in agriculture projects. As a tool to reach smallholder farmers at scale, the Productive Alliances model, inter alia helps connect farmers to markets. FAO highlighted how this could be done inclusively. PA models are inherently adaptable and provide a vehicle for consistent support to ensure economic and environment sustainability.  

Norwegian Church Aid presented Micro Investing as an affordable approach for smallholders to become profitable and “break out” of subsistence models, connecting with the local food system and beyond. Increase of productivity and yield need to be combined with approaches pursuing climate action and a focus on addressing all forms of malnutrition.

Summary of key points

Norway launched an action plan on “sustainable food systems” at the UN recently containing four thematic areas; Food production, Value creation and markets, Nutrition and diet and Policy and governance. Increasing agricultural productivity was highlighted as the main key towards simultaneously mitigating and adapting to climate change as well as pursuing a #ZeroHunger2030.

World Bank reported on the Productive Alliances Model that connects smallholders with national and regional markets and has been successfully implemented in Latin America for the last 20 years. By capturing and adding more value, boosting human capital, increasing the involvement of private sector and investing in climate resilient mechanisms this effective model’s impact can be maximized even further.

FAO discussed how to sustainably strengthen food systems by supporting the economic integration of the rural poor. The four areas of focus were ensuring food security and nutrition, promoting economic inclusion, environmental sustainability, and resilient livelihoods, as well as protecting the extreme poor against shocks.

Climate change and deforestation are interlinked where food and forest compete. Norwegian Church Aid insisted on scalable solutions that are profitable for smallholders and robust towards climate change. Affordability is the master key in Micro Investing, a scalable approach to poverty eradication that is hard-wired to food security and climate action.

Key take away messages

Food systems is a meaningful framework to achieve food security and related SDGs. To create effective food systems, a synergy between key actors must exist. The Productive Alliance Model is an example of how connecting smallholders with markets will increase yield and add value, and Micro Investing is an example of focusing on driving productivity in the local food systems.

Scalability is needed for meaningful impact towards zero hunger and climate change. Affordability is the master key in Micro Investing, a scalable approach to poverty eradication that is hard-wired to food security and climate action and at the same time scalable.

PA address the employment, sales and competitiveness outcomes of smallholders. The approaches discussed might need redesign to incorporate innovations, digitalization and new technologies to improve smallholder’s livelihood. Strengthening farmers alliances, improving productivity and adding value to the production, are key to further empower smallholders.

CFS 46 Side Event: SE125 Strengthening Smallholder Food Systems. Productive Alliances - Scalable Solutions


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