Inclusive Agribusiness: Why we need to work together!

Inclusive Agribusiness: Why we need to work together!

 “There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.”

― Idowu Koyenikan, Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability

This quote resonates in the agribusiness space as various interests come to play in having constant supply of food on the table. From the Farmers right to the consumer, there are various actors within the value chain of each commodity and the synergy between these various linkages is very key for sustainability. So how do we achieve this simple but yet complex inter and intra relationships.

Businesses today are moving from the traditional capitalist approach to a more social oriented approach. To operate businesses in most countries, laws are enforced to ensure corporate social responsibilities by such organizations. The very core of Eweko concept is centered on Inclusive business; bringing in the different stakeholders within the fruits and vegetable value chain to achieve seamless integration flow of processes for continuous business operation.

“An inclusive business is a sustainable business that benefits low-income communities. It is a business initiative that, keeping its for-profit nature, contributes to poverty reduction through the inclusion of low-income communities in its value chain. In simple words, inclusive business is all about including the poor in the business process be it as producers, entrepreneurs or consumers.”

The 2SCALE project has facilitated the formation of a cluster in Epe, around a commodity (chili pepper), to leverage on the strength of the different stakeholders identified within the value chain.

The ultimate goal of the cluster formation was to increase productivity and subsequently improve the livelihood within the communities and far beyond. The cluster has been able to reduced cost of production and increase competitiveness through

  • Bulk purchasing
  • Bulk transportation
  • Capacity building
  • Better bargaining power
  • Collective resolution of challenges
  • Access to structured markets
  • Adopting market2farm approach

So meet me, on the next blog post to read more on how the Epe Agribusiness cluster, eweko concept and the 2SCALE project engaged different stakeholders in their quest for inclusive agribusiness.

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Building Integrated Business Support Services

The role of advisors in agribusiness is ever changing. Whereas conventional advisors mainly work with farmers, 2SCALE turned these intermediaries into coaches of local business partnerships in a particular value chain. As this shift showed impressive results, such as the embedding of support costs within the value chain, 2SCALE explains the approach of its service delivery model and lessons learned in its second thematic paper “Strengthening business support services for agribusiness partnerships”.

Support services within agribusiness clusters

In 2SCALE, the role and terms of reference of agribusiness advisors moved from being mostly technical advisors for farmers to facilitators and on-the-job coaches of local business actor networks formed as partnerships around a producer organizations: the agribusiness clusters (ABCs).

One of the main tasks of the coaches is to coordinate the actions within the ABC. The coaches herein support the identification of factors that hinder the development of the business actors and come up with innovative alternatives and opportunities that can shake ABC actors out of their old habits and ways of working. The coaches, who in turn are trained and coached by 2SCALE, link value chain partners, like lead (aggregating/processing) firms, producer organisations (POs), traders and agro-input dealers, to each other but also involve other supporting actors, such as banks, insurance companies, transporters, etc. in the ABC

These local linkages usually do not emerge spontaneously because of factors such as fierce competition and distrust. As such, the coaches facilitate on-going cooperation and safeguard the continuous improvement of the functioning of the ABC and the value chain as a whole.

In addition, just like most advisors, they also provide training in technical matters, like good agricultural practices, use of new agro-inputs or mechanisation techniques, etc. However, these technical skills do not by itself result into wide adoption and better business. Therefore, above all, the coaches focus on business matters and strengthening functional capacities, such as how to analyse production costs, identify options for cost reduction and efficiency, develop production, marketing and business plans, build good business relations, negotiate with other players or set-up legal contracts.

Capacitating agribusiness cluster coaches
This multi-faceted work requires coaches to have a comprehensive combination of skills, competences and appropriate mindset.  2SCALE therefore developed a capacity strengthening model in which local-level ABC coaches are trained and mentored by professional agribusiness trainers. These trainers provide hands-on mentoring and on-the-job support as the coaches facilitate their field coaching sessions to ABC actors.

2SCALE’s second thematic paper “Strengthening business support services for agribusiness partnerships” discusses this service delivery model, its methodology and its outcomes, illustrated in 10 field stories. It also distills 9 key lessons learned during 5 years of 2SCALE, of which one of the most promising is the embedding of shared costs of this type of business support services within the value chain.

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