“Inclusive business” in agriculture: Evidence from the evolution of agricultural value chains
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Sustained interest by the business community in commercial agriculture in the Global South has been welcomed for its potential to bring capital into long neglected rural areas, but has also raised concerns over implications for customary land rights and the terms of integration of local land and labor into global supply chains. In global development policy and discourse, the concept of “inclusive business” has become central in efforts to resolve these tensions, with the idea that integrating smallholders and other disadvantaged actors into partnerships with agribusiness firms can generate benefits for national economies, private investors, and local livelihoods. ~Scholarly treatment of the topic has tended to be polarized into win/lose narratives, or points to the contingency and social differentiation of localised experiences. This review paper takes a different approach, exploring published evidence on the structural factors shaping agricultural value chains and their implications for social inclusion. It develops a typology of seven agricultural value chains, and uses this to select a sample of crops in specific world regions for an analysis of how structural factors in value chain relations – from crop features, to market dynamics and policy drivers – affect social inclusion (and exclusion).