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The Positive Impact Summit in London last month brought together a diverse range of stakeholders to discuss ways to create enduring economic and social value for businesses and societies. It was an opportunity to discuss some of the world’s most pressing problems — including what Palladium calls the paradox of the starving farmer.
More than 2.5 billion smallholder farmers manage more than 80 percent of the world’s estimated 500 million small farms. They also provide the vast majority of the food consumed in much of the developing world, and yet smallholder farmers comprise the majority of the world’s undernourished and most of those living in absolute poverty (International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD).
In other words: many of the very farmers who are key to global food security have trouble putting food on the table for themselves and their families. The good news is there are ways to address this paradox.
The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, and Palladium and are deploying innovative solutions that help bring smallholder farmers out of poverty. The key challenge is how to create enough value within the market system that connects farmers to technology, innovation, finance, and markets such that farmers, and the entire system, are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
- Improving Productivity - Increased incomes are generated not only from higher, fairer prices as a result of improved crop quality, but by improved productivity leading to higher yields.
- Incentivizing Private Investment - Poor farmers often lack the funds to invest in the equipment and technology that could improve yields. Companies should be incentivized to invest in production and post-harvesting equipment.
- Sustainable Commercialisation - The value of market linkages is often trumpeted by programs working with smallholder farmers. Facilitating introductions to potential buyers or providing information on potential markets can help stimulate market growth.
These interventions alone do not solve the food security needs of smallholder farmers. However, by working towards long-term solutions and building coalitions of progressive organisations who see the imperative of creating economic and social value, we can make strides towards alleviating poverty and ensuring food security for the farmers who feed the world.