“I want to know how to increase income for a larger group of youth”, said Mr Devon Blake, when asked why he came to the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum in Barbados this week.
Blake is project manager for Jascel, a business group that provides marketing services of fresh produces and value added products and setting up of local stores with 120 farmers in Jamaica. Blake is on the right place at the right time, to know that his business behaves almost exactly as the new popular model being promoted by the organisers of the event – Inclusiveness.
It is not new to figure out that the Caribbean, Pacific and African regions share similar traits and challenges in agriculture, forestry, and for the coastal areas, fisheries – the primary ingredients for the regions’ economic growth, further galvanised when technology and ICT are added. Yet, these regions are particularly well-known for the grim high rate of unemployment, especially for their youth who sees agriculture at the bottom of the food chain.
Those primary blessings (for sake of simplicity we called “agriculture”), are particularly pleasant because their ecosystem embodies the potential to drive change in these regions’ economy, provide large pool of employment, raise income and become leaders in the food business.
Putting parts together
If the new business model of doing agri-business is inclusiveness of youth, the disadvantaged, men and women, how do we attract the numbers?
Mr Joost Guijt and Ms. Monika Sopov from the Centre for Development Innovation of the Wageningen University (Netherlands) showed participants from across the three regions, practical solutions on how to make agriculture attractive and set it back on the threshold of our economies. That is, the Value Chain ecosystem with Horizontal and Vertical Integration.
“The value chain describes the full range of activities which are required to bring a product or service from conception, through the different phases of production (involving a combination of physical transformation and the input of various producer services), delivery to final consumers, and final disposal after use”. (Kaplinsky and Morris, 2002)
From the session it was understood that the core competencies for value chain formation are:
- capacity to trust and to be trust-worthy
- improved ability to respond and customise products to end-user needs
- increased focus on product and process development
- continued focus on cost control and efficiency
- more emphasis on risk management
- optimisation of the logistics and transportation/distribution system
- a focus on holistic systems that integrate the entire supply chain
- increased emphasis on quality and quality assurance along the chain
- more emphasis on information and information sharing
- increased skill in negotiation and joint decision-making
- development of cooperative/collaborative attitudes and perspectives
Spreading Values is cream for Inclusiveness
Value chains can only work sustainably when agri-business interests are shared between producers (smallholders) and buyers (agribusiness companies). It includes:
- Ownership: of the business (equity shares) and of key project assets such as land and processing facilities.
- Voice: the ability to influence key business decisions, including weight in decision-making arrangements for review and grievance and mechanisms for dealing with information access.
- Risk: including commercial risk, but also wider risk such as political and reputational risk.
- Reward: the sharing of economic costs and benefits, including price-setting and finance arrangements.
- Inclusiveness: create opportunities that enable small-scale farmers and their cooperatives to become economically viable business partners in supply chains.
- Support small- and medium-scale enterprises to enable them to flourish as processors and service providers along the supply chain.
- Provide employment opportunities in processing and service enterprises under fair labour conditions.
- Establish agri-hubs and clusters that help to drive overall rural economic prosperity.
- Deliver healthy, affordable, accessible food products and services for low-income consumers in rural and urban areas.
Making the connection
While some of the above value chain segments are the job of each regions’ government, Mr Blake can’t be happier. His business approach in Jamaica may not be the epitome of the full value chain integration, but the learning curve has been set in motion, a stepping stone of the “Inclusiveness” movement for his 120 farmers, and the 600 smallholders on the periphery of taking off to a new level of employment and attractive income for the farm families’ livelihoods.
Photo credit: Antony Chapoto/IFPRI
Blogpost by Lopez Marac Adams, Social Reporter for the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum 2015.