Mainstreaming small-scale producers

Photo Credit: Karin Schermbrucker

Background

Governments around the world are increasingly realising the important role that small-scale producers can play in developing economies. While large-scale and corporate businesses have become the dominant market players over the past several decades, these mainstream food supply chains and conglomerates cannot provide and distribute enough food to feed all of those in need. Significantly, their systems are often not capable of incorporating small-scale producers into their operations, which means that this environmentally and socially important sector is often sidelined and not able to benefit from the growing shift towards responsible practices. To develop socially equitable and ecologically sustainable food systems in South Africa it is thus critical to find ways to effectively address the challenges faced by small-scale producers and enable them to effectively participate in the responsible food system.

In South Africa government is increasingly recognising the importance of small-scale production in both fisheries and agriculture. Not just because of the large number of people involved in these sectors and their potential environmental impacts, but also because of their potential to contribute to food security and job creation. If effectively organised, these producers can play a key role in eradicating hunger, reducing rural poverty and improving global food security – but only if they are empowered to achieve these goals through sustainable production practices.

Currently, small-scale communal producers in South Africa, such as both fishers and farmers, have limited access to key aspects of production, including access to credit and information. Markets are also often constrained by inadequate property rights and high transaction costs. WWF is increasingly engaging in a number of initiatives with these small-scale producers and multiple partners, such as Fair Trade, Solidaridad, the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa and others, to support the development of sustainable and equitable supply chains to link these smallholder producers to the formal market and enable more equitable and sustainable management of environmental resources.

And this is the aim of this project – to mainstream WWF-SA’s work with small-scale producers to drive change at scale in this sector. This project will manage WWFs small-scale producer projects; coordinate small-scale producer learning networks between WWF and other non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners; and identify opportunities and measures to catalyse effective market linkages between small-scale producers and organised markets.

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