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Sustainable Sector Transformation: How to drive sustainability performance in smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors?

Agriculture has performed well over the last 50 years, in both keeping pace with rapid population growth and in delivering food at progressively lower prices. Unfortunately this growth has led to overuse of natural resources and the release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. In addition, many agricultural producers continue to live at or below the poverty line, and agricultural workers are often subject to unacceptable working conditions. Sustainable production of agricultural commodities is necessary to ensure food security, a healthy natural resource base and human wellbeing.

Addressing sustainability issues in agro-commodity sectors is challenging. The challenges for smallholderdominated sectors relate to productivity and compliance with ‘sustainability’ systems and proof of that compliance. In the majority of these sectors, current transformation models, whether public or market driven, have only had limited success.

This paper presents a sustainable sector transformation model which takes a holistic approach to transformation. It begins with an explanation of some of the dynamics of sector transformation. It then presents the limits of purely public or market-driven models, before finally presenting the five building blocks that make up the model.

Publication information

  • IIED code: 16584IIED
  • Published: Apr 2015 - Aidenvironment, NewForesight, IIED
  • Theme: Sustainable markets
  • ISBN: 978-1-78431-160-5
  • Language: English

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Molenaar, J.W., Gorter, J., Heilbron, L., Simons, L., Vorley, B., Blackmore, E., Dallinger, J. 2015. Sustainable Sector Transformation: How to drive sustainability performance in smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors? White Paper 1. Commissioned by IFC.

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There is an increasing number of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) in the market. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) tasked IIED, NewForesight and Aidenvironment to explore how VSS could be scaled up to improve agricultural sustainability in developing countries. The research produced a model for sector transformation.

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Scaling up sustainability in smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors