Socioeconomic inclusion in the Brazilian biodiesel productive chain: is the Social Fuel Seal enough?
Pedro Gilberto Cavalcante Filho (University of Campinas, Brazil), Antônio Márcio Buainain, Gabriela Solidario de Souza Benatti, Marcelo Pereira da Cunha
Brazil stands out as successful in agriculture and biofuel production. In 2004 the Federal Government launched the National Biodiesel Production and Use Program (PNPB) with a twofold ambitious aim: increase the mix of biodiesel in the mineral diesel to up to 15% in 15 years and promote socioeconomic inclusion of 120 mil family farmers into the biodiesel value chain. For this PNPB brought an important innovation: The Social Fuel Seal. This instrument provided fiscal and market incentives for companies to source row material from family farmers, a large group of small and heterogeneous producers historically marginalized from governmental initiatives. While up to 15% of soybeans used by biodiesel mills is supposedly produced by family farmers, both the benefits for the target group themselves and the contribution of social fuel to foster local development are unclear. On the contrary, there are anecdotical evidences that ambitious goals set for social and productive inclusion of family farmers were not reached. This paper summarizes research results that aimed at the impacts of biodiesel production within the Social Fuel Seal on family farmers and the Brazilian economy. The analysis is based on the use of secondary and complementary official data, and the Input-Output matrix is the methodology applied.
An active biofuel policy is present in Brazil since the 1970s, when the National Alcohol Program (“Proálcool”) was launched. Even if sometimes erratically, the Federal government has since promoted biofuels as an alternative and complementary source of fuel for vehicles. The initial motivation was to address macroeconomic imbalances, in particular the trade balance deficit and the external dependence of fossil fuel, whose skyrocketing prices in the international market fueled the surging domestic inflation. The World Summit on Sustainable Development Forum Rio+10 (Earth Summit), in 2002, highlighted criticisms - mainly at the international level - of the growth model based on the use of fossil energy. These discussions led to the strengthening of environmental concerns by the Brazilian policymakers, and as a result the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels was incorporated into the goals and justifications of biofuel policies.
In 2004, the National Biodiesel Production and Use Program (PNPB by its initials in Portuguese) was launched, motivated once more by macro concerns such as the dependence on diesel imports and the forecasts of scarcity and high prices of petrol at the international market. Nevertheless, the PNPB also reflected both the growing environmental awareness as well as concerns with the need to promote social and productive inclusion of small farmers in the prosperous Brazilian agribusiness chains. Amongst the mechanisms to promote the production of biodiesel, the PNPB has included a Social Fuel Seal particularly designed to provide market incentives for purchase of raw material from family farmers by the biodiesel mills. The idea was to associate the expansion of the biodiesel chain with the promotion of regional development in peripheral regions and the productive inclusion of family farmers (a heterogeneous group of small farmers who were historically excluded of initiatives in the Brazilian context).
In this sense, the initial goal was to include at least 120 thousand families of small producers, who could even double the income level and overcome poverty. The social and productive inclusion of family farmers required both technological and institutional innovation. Regarding technological innovation, it was necessary to support the development of alternative sources of raw materials for the production of biodiesel that could be supplied by family farmers to the benefit of local economies and communities. At the institutional level, there was a challenge of guaranteeing technical assistance and operational logistics to the geographically dispersed family farmers – characterized in Brazil by a small production scale – for reaching the regular supply of raw material.
This research looked at effectiveness of the Social Fuel Seal and the impacts of biodiesel production on family farming and state economies. It has compared of impacts on two states, Rio Grande do Sul and Mato Grosso, which stand out as the largest biodiesel producers in Brazil. While Rio Grande do Sul relies mostly on family farming, the agricultural sector Mato Grosso is shaped by the predominance of large-scale production cultivating areas greater than 1,000 hectares. The comparison, therefore, allowed the identification of different impacts on local economies, associated with the presence of family farmers. To understand the structure of the biodiesel chain and family farming in these two selected states, the analysis is based on the use of secondary and complementary official data, and the Input-Output matrix is the methodology applied. This methodological instrument allows the measurement of the effects in a direct, indirect, and overflow manner.
Results and discussion
It cannot be denied that PNPB was successful in some aspects, which was decisive for the design and consolidation of the biodiesel productive chain in Brazil. Between 2005 and 2019 the production of biodiesel increased from 736 m³ to 5.3 million m³; nationwide, 51 plants were established; the productive capacity installed is sufficient to meet the demand projections for the next 5 years or more. Notwithstanding, a strong productive concentration in the Midwest and South regions, traditional centers of the Brazilian agricultural production, distorted the original aim of the program in promoting regional development. This result is related to the low production dynamic and little participation of production by the poorest regions, such as the Northeast and the North. Accordingly, it is possible to affirm that the expansion of the program was coordinated especially by market forces and not by State action, as the chain was consolidated in regions that were already developed. Besides, initiatives to promote the production of other crops, such as castor beans in the Northeast, failed due to the technical and productive difficulties faced by family farmers. The result is that, unlike what was announced in the initial plans and official speeches of the government, the two main raw materials used for the production of biodiesel are soy and animal fat, and not the alternative sources that should be produced by family farmers. Within the scope of social inclusion, the initial estimates of the Social Fuel Seal were not reached. On the contrary, as of 2012 there was a significant reduction in the number of family farmers included in the productive chain: in 2011 the program included over 100 thousand families, and in 2018 the number of included families was approximately 62 thousand. Most of the producers who left the program in this period are from the Northeast region, which presents one of the lowest development rates in Brazil, reflecting the structural and productive difficulties for the inclusion of the target group.
Furthermore, even the participation of family farmers in the biodiesel chain happened in a concentrated way, including especially farmers in the Southern region, where family farming is much more developed, organized, and inserted in other agricultural chains. This result expresses that the Brazilian biodiesel productive chain included only the most profitable farmers within the heterogeneous universe of Brazilian family farming. Regarding the comparison between the two selected states, the results of the Input-Output matrix shows that the production of biodiesel via family farming in Rio Grande do Sul is 66 times greater than the production in Mato Grosso, generating approximately 19 thousand jobs, and with a considerably higher impact on the local economy than the registered in Mato Grosso. In terms of income, the sale of soybeans for the production of biodiesel from family farming in Rio Grande do Sul results in an income 56% higher than the earned by the same activity of family farmers in Mato Grosso. The differences are explained mainly by the socio-productive structure of the agricultural sector in Rio Grande do Sul, which has a high participation of family farmers. Among other relevant results, the study reveals that the production of biodiesel one million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) by family farmers generates 7,700 and 5,200 jobs in Rio Grande do Sul and Mato Grosso, respectively, while the fossil route generates only 1,600 occupations. In terms of wealth generation, the greater impact of biodiesel production on the Brazilian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is justified by its price being higher than mineral diesel oil and also by the greater quantity of biodiesel required to meet the same energy content.
Evaluation of the economic, social and environmental potential of Macauba: A comparative analysis with soybeans
João Pedro Baptistini Lopes (University of Campinas, Brazil) Andreia Camargo Marques Postal, José Maria da Silveira, Gabriela Solidario de Souza Benatti
The global energy matrix is in a process of transformation. More and more countries are trying to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, the growing concern about the environmental damage and climate change provoked by the excessive human interference paved the way for the expansion of biofuels. The increasing demand for biofuels has also boosted the demand for raw materials that could be used in its production. In this scenario of greater demand for renewable sources of energy and raising concerns about socio-environmental impacts, inputs that have not only strong potential for economic gains, but also social and environmental improvements, had its value increased. Thus, the macauba, for fulfilling these requirements, has been attracting more and more attention of researchers and policy makers. It has both productive and socio-environmental advantages over other cultures, important factors in the search for a way to reduce, or even revert, the environmental impact and improve living conditions. The fruit produced by the palm tree is rich in oil, that can be used to produce biodiesel and is extracted from macauba pulp and kernels. Despite the energy use, the oil can be also used for food, cosmetic, medicinal, handmade and construction purposes. From the oil extraction, pulp and kernel press cakes, which can be used as animal fodder, and kernel shell, that can be used as raw material for high value granulate. Moreover, other parts from the plant, as roots and leaves, can also be used. Regarding its yields, studies estimates that is possible to obtain about 4,0 MT yr-1 of oil, 13,0 MT yr-1 of press cakes and 16,9 MT yr-1 from one hectare, considering a population density of 400 plants ha-1.
Another aspect to be considered is the wide range of cultivation systems where the palm tree can be produced. It can be cultivated not only in a monoculture production system, but also in Integrated Crop-Livestock-Forest (ICLF) systems, which is an alternative to recover degraded areas, increase profits and diversify farmer risks. In addition to he advantages provided to the producer, the macauba planting can also benefit the population. The demand is for one worker for every 10 hectares. Moreover, the palm tree expansion could also provide environmental benefits, as reduction of soil degradation, significant carbon sink and increase of local biodiversity.
However, despite the great productivity and the wide range of positive externalities created through its cultivation, the macauba is still little used on a commercial scale. This work has the objective of understand the reason of the low exploitation of the macauba in Brazil and verify if, with the existing technology, would be economically practicable to produce the fruit to serve the biofuels market. For that, a comparative analysis was made between soybean crop and the palm tree. The grains were chosen for this study due to its huge importance for the Brazilian agriculture and the domestic biodiesel market. It is known that soybean is already established in the country and the comparison with a crop whose exploitation is still almost exclusively extractive may seem unfair. However, the use of such a traditional culture is of great importance for understanding the strengths and weaknesses of macauba, related to both economic and socio-environmental issues. Thus, it will be possible to carry out a direction that the palm tree should follow to become a cash crop and the impacts that a public policy to stimulate the plant could provide.
Competitiveness factors used in this study were selected based on existing literature and field research. The aspects chosen were macroeconomic factors, public policies, technology, market structure, production costs, environmental impacts and social impacts. The analysis of competitiveness factors was focused on Minas Gerais, as it is the state where the main researches and initiatives around the development of the commercial cultivation of macauba occur. This study concluded that despite the existence of several factors favorable to its exploitation, the macauba has limiting aspects that hinder its cultivation. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the existing initiatives and the emergence of others to soft, or eliminate, the plant's limitations, so it could be explored widely in the country. Furhermore, if the exploration of macauba were expanded, either by private initiatives or through public policies, the high potential of positive externalities provided by the palm tree could generate high benefits for society.
Inclusive value chain development through the operationalisation of the Value Chain Readiness concept: a case study from Tanzania
D'amico, V., Cacchiarelli, L., Branca, G. (University of Tuscia, Italy)
According to UNIDO (2011), inclusive value-chain development (VCD) can be defined as a “positive or desirable change in a value chain to extend or improve productive operations and generate social benefits: poverty reduction, income and employment generation, economic growth, environmental performance, gender equity and other development goals”. Beyond embracing the promotion of the competitiveness through key concepts such as added value, upgrading and innovation, inclusive VCD in rural sector seeks at focusing on poor and vulnerable smallholder farmers (Stoian et al, 2012) enhancing their relationships with other chain actors (Donovan & Stoian, 2012) and thus delivering mutually beneficial interventions for increasing chain efficiency.
Nevertheless, value-chain participation entails a number of challenges for smallholder farmers. Limited access to land, technology and inputs, inadequate knowledge of the market functioning, insufficient access to credit and extension services combined with more general problems of poor infrastructures often prevent smallholder farmers from accessing profitable market opportunities (Devaux et al, 2018). Even when these conditions are met, improved market access can be constrained by a difficult and uncertain market environment and by the lack of effective policies and incentive schemes, or the failure in their implementation. The success of interventions aimed at smallholders’ participation in VC requires the development of holistic methods accounting for rural poor heterogeneity. Operative methods are needed for assessing whether rural households meet the minimum conditions for participating in the VC. According to Stoian et al (2012), these minimum conditions converge into the notion of “value-chain readiness” (VCR) which is determined by external and internal factors. External factors include “access to basic infrastructures and services, common pool resources and social stability” (ibid., p. 82). Internal factors focus on “asset endowments, interests and power” (ibid., p. 82).
The current study is aimed at analysing the conditions for the development of more inclusive cereal-legumes VCs in the District of Lindi, in Tanzania. This will be done by exploring the concept of VCR from a theoretical and empirical perspective. From a theoretical perspective, we conceptualize a comprehensive multidimensional VCR definition (RQ1). To do so, we draw from the general definition provided by Stoian et al in 2012 and expand the included dimensions and their linkages through an extensive literature review. Discarding the idea of rural farmers’ uniformity between and within sites, we operationalise a “value-chain readiness” quali-quantitave assessment method to understand whether smallholder farmers in Lindi District meet the minimum conditions to participate in the selected VCs (RQ2). In addition, available and potential policies and instruments for a feasible implementation of an inclusive VCD strategy in the study site will be investigated (RQ3). In particular, existing market-based interventions and their implementation efficacy will be assessed for enhancing market access of value-chain ready farmers. Conversely, with regard to not value-chain ready farmers, the policy analyses will focus on the conduciveness of existing nonmarket-based interventions to create the minimum conditions for their participation in the VCs. The involvement of selected stakeholders will allow to qualitative validate the most critical dimensions of the value-chain readiness in the District. The use of a participatory approach will support the design of policy guidelines for a more inclusive value-chain development tailored to the specific context.
Besides contributing to the literature on VC inclusiveness, the relevance the current study resides on the provision of empirical results and effective policy guidelines able to foster the participation of smallholder farmers in more inclusive VCs.
Methods and data
A mixed methodology will be used, combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. An extensive literature review will be conducted to expand the VCR definition proposed by Stoian et al. in 2012. The VCR readiness definition will be operationalised providing a qualitative and quantitative assessment method for each of the selected VCR’s dimension using: (i.) data from a survey conducted in Lindi District from January to February 2018 and involving 332 households; (ii.) data collected in the site through a focus group discussion and key informant interviews in February 2018; (iii.) reports of a Multiactor Platform meeting held in the site in March 2020; and (iv.) secondary data. Data from the household survey will be used to build indexes aimed at assessing the following dimensions: access to basic infrastructures, access to services, and assets endowment. For the latter, a composite asset index will be built. The Political Stability index (World Bank) will be used to overcome data constraint for the social stability dimension. Data from the focus group discussion, from the key informant interviews and from the Multiactor Platform meeting will be used to qualitative assess the dimensions of interest and power.
Further information on the site-specific assessment of VCR’s critical dimensions and on the available policies and instruments and their implementation efficacy will be obtained through an online questionnaire submitted to selected stakeholders during the summer of 2020.
Preliminary results and conclusion
Expected outputs will include theoretical, methodological and empirical results. Preliminary empirical results show that cereal and legumes in the District are sold through different marketing channels at local, national and international level. Looking at the VCR’s external factors, weak local infrastructures have been reported to constrain the access to local markets. In particular, despite good roads exist toward national and international markets, respectively located in Mtwara and Dar-es-Salaam, a poor connection from the villages to the main roads affects the prices of produce at farm gate. Access to services in the District is very low. For instance, only 7% of respondents accessed to extension and advisory services in 2017. Insights from the VCR’s internal factors evidence a general low level of capital endowment. Examples of that is the financial capital -where farmers showed a 9% rate of positive access to credit-, and the social capital -with only 20% of farmers being active members of an agricultural organization-. As for the dimensions of interest and power, relevant information were collected during the focus group discussion with the VCs actors. Among the others, participants recognized as major weaknesses of the analysed VCs: (i.) the lack of formal organizational arrangements between famers and either local/national traders or agents from international companies; and (ii.) the lack of farmers’ trust on market strategies promoted by the Government. These results, however partial and preliminary, will inform the assessment of the VCR for the analysed site and will guide the analyses of the existing and potential policies and instruments. Expected results will thus provide useful indications for policy makers and practitioners to promote policy changes able to account for heterogeneity within the District and to drive an inclusive value-chain development for effectively addressing rural poverty.
Macaúba (Acrocomia aculeata): a new possibility for an inclusive biodiesel production?
Gabriela Solidario de Souza Benatti (University of Campinas, Brazil / Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands), Antônio Márcio Buainain, Pedro Gilberto Cavalcante Filho, José Maria da Silveira, João Baptistini Lopes
Macaúba (Acrocomia aculeata) is a native palm tree found throughout the tropical zone of Latin America. This crop stands out among other palm trees for its positive characteristics as great potential for cultivation in low fertile soils, rehabilitation of natural resources, and productive inclusion of family farmers into a promising value chain. Its high oil productivity and the potential for including small farmers have been presented as competitive differentials when compared to the main sources of raw material used by the biodiesel value chains in Brazil, based mostly in soybeans and animal fat sourced by large farmers and agricultural firms. Considering the increasing requirement of tying energy efficiency, environmental and socio-economic inclusion, macaúba has been raised to the status of a “promise crop” for biodiesel production due to its characteristics. Notwithstanding, there are challenges regarding technological, structural, social, economic, and financial aspects in the way. In Brazil there are initiatives to use macaúba for different purposes, aiming different markets, from aviation fuel to cosmetics and food industry. The more consolidated initiatives are based on extractivist systems whereas plantations are still in the primary stages of research and piloting business models. Nevertheless, there is plenty of literature and field research-based information to allow the accounting of the potential of using macaúba oil in the biodiesel sector and for including small family farmers in the promising value chain. This is the aim of this article, which will be based on a literature review and field research carried out by the authors.
In the context of increasing pressure on natural resources and on products already fully incorporated into the consolidated value chains, macaúba has been highlighted due to the potential for biodiesel production. Macaúba is a palm tree native of tropical forests, found in many Brazilian regions. The different ways in which it can be used, as a source of raw material for the food and industrial sectors, and mainly in the energy sector as a raw material for the production of biodiesel, have driven several types of research on this palm tree. Macaúba has great potential for use from stem to seed, being used for food, cosmetic, and energy purposes. Wood is used to make slats and water gutters, from the core of the trunk a very nutritious flour is obtained, the leaves are used as fodder and textile fibers. The fruit, however, represents the most culturally and economically important part of the plant, which can be consumed fresh or used for oil production. A great advantage of macaúba for oil production is that it can be integrated into vast existing pastures without harming pastoral yields, and can be used to produce fodder for animals. Furthermore, it is possible to produce oil without deforestation or changes in land use. Despite its potential for use, the exploration happens, in general, based on extractivism, and its processing is almost always artisanal. This crop also stands out among other palm trees for its positive characteristics as great potential for cultivation in low fertile soils, rehabilitation of natural resources and productive inclusion of small farmers (which in Brazil is a synonym of family farming) into a promising value chain. In the Brazilian rural context, it is not possible to discuss inclusion without considering the family farmers, a very heterogeneous group of small farmers historically excluded from initiatives aimed at the modernization, credit incentives, or market infrastructure (stocks of security, storage, and distribution mechanisms). Only in 1996, for the first time, the category “family farming” became recognized in Brazil to categorize small farmers as a target audience of public policies. In the context of the National Program for the Biodiesel Production and Use (PNPB), launched in 2004 by the Brazilian government, family farmers are a key target audience. In this sense, the discussion about inclusion in this work is centered on the socio-economic inclusion of these historically excluded actors in the Brazilian rural reality. The aim of this work is precisely to examine the potential of using macaúba oil in the biodiesel sector and the possibility of contributing to the formation of value chains that are more inclusive and sustainable. In this context, studying the macaúba and the initiatives that have already been implemented for its exploration allows us to understand the key factors that are conditioning this value chain, and what the elements already known can indicate in terms of socio-economic inclusion of family farmers and sustainability.
The analysis is based on literature review and field research. The literature search was carried out systematically in the databases Scopus and Web of Science. The field research was realized in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, which concentrates native macaúba trees, as well as initiatives of the plantation of this palm tree. Five case studies were studied based on interviews with the leaders of the initiatives, employees, and family farmers.
Results and Discussion
Macaúba can benefit rural workers in agriculture. As the macaúba harvest occurs after the coffee harvest, income opportunities are created for the off-season. Workers who chose to integrate the macaúba harvest in the off-season received more than twice the minimum wage and more than alternative jobs. For oil production, the prospects are encouraging: some estimates indicate the production of about 4000 liters of oil per hectare in dense plantations of macaúba trees. Annual oilseed crops have much lower production: soybean yields can reach 420 liters of oil per hectare/year, while sunflower and castor bean can reach 890 and 1320 liters of oil per hectare/year, respectively. Regarding productivity, studies show an average production of macaúba fruits ranging from 39 to 75kg/year per plant, which can reach 167kg per year, considering the average of the most productive plants. In the Brazilian case, the use of this palm tree is already inserted in many traditional communities as a component of local development. The initial dissemination of macaúba cultivation is more viable through integration with pastures, as it is a possible extra income that will not harm the main business, and may even benefit it. In these cases, there is no land-use change (from food production, for example, to another crop), as it is on the “second floor” that the macaúba is located, and on the “first floor” it is possible to cultivate food and keep livestock. Social integration brings economic advantages and contributes to the generation of income to the family farmers, but that does not mean that it is an easy task. In the field research, we identified that inclusion is a big challenge, especially in the state of Minas Gerais, as the profile of family farmers is, in general, conservative, eldest, characterized by low levels of education and many fears. Besides, as in the first 3 years of cultivation macaúba is very palatable for the herd, it is necessary to isolate the cattle during this period to preserve the plantations. In this sense, very small properties (which is commonly a characteristic of Brazilian family farming establishments) that survive exclusively on livestock, and have no space to isolate cattle, cannot adhere to this type of strategy. For these cases, it becomes an unfeasible initiative. In Brazil, during the field research period, which took place in the first half of 2020, there was only one initiative for planting macaúba for the production of biodiesel combined with the inclusion of family farmers. The contracts for this initiative are for 20 years, as the productive return of the plantation begins in the 5th year of cultivation (when the first harvest is done). Given this long-term reality, 16% of the contacted family farmers decided to refuse a partnership with the company, because they did not agree in committing for so long. In this sense, despite much potential, some issues still need to be taken into account for the socio-economic inclusion of family farmers in the biodiesel production chain.
Animal Business: An Ethical Exploration of Corporate Responsibility Towards Animals
Monique Janssens (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands)
Societal and philosophical support for the idea that animals should receive more legal and moral protection is growing. Consumers, investors and NGOs have become critical of the treatment of animals in the value chain by corporations and nations (Amos & Sullivan, 2018; Special Eurobarometer, 2015). Nevertheless, normative explorations of the responsibility of companies towards animals are scarce (Van Liedekerke & Dubbink, 2008). Therefore, in this paper I will explore the ethical responsibility of businesses towards animals in the value chain.
1. The Moral Status of Animals
‘To have a moral status is to be morally considerable, or to have moral standing. It is to be an entity towards which moral agents have, or can have, moral obligations’, states Warren (1997:3). She argues that sentience of organisms provides a moral status, and is therefore a reason not to kill them or cause them pain (Warren, 1997). Rollin (2016), agrees with Warren that sentience is a sufficient condition for moral status. From a Kantian perspective, Korsgaard also agrees to attribute moral status to sentient animals, stating that animals pursue the objects of their inclinations just like humans do, and that both are creatures for whom things can go well or badly (Višak & Garner, 2016). Singer’s (1975/2009) utilitarian view on ethical evaluation and decision making is based on a moral status of animals dictated by their sentience. Regan (1983/2004) acknowledges moral status to individuals who have beliefs, desires, preferences, intentionality, memory and a sense of their future. He defines mammals as subjects-of-a-life and therefore ‘moral patients’: they have a life that is theirs and can undergo moral acts from moral agents.
2. Moral Obligations
If sentients animals have a moral status it is an obligation of moral agents to give them moral consideration. To determine how we should act as humans, we need ethical theories.
The most important philosopher of a utilitarian approach to animal ethics is Singer (1975/2009; 1981/2011). Utilitarianism has a strong case in claiming that the interests of sentient animals as their interests should be taken into account in assessments of right and wrong.
The most well-known duty-based approach to ethics is Kant’s deontological theory, which acknowledges no direct human duties with regard to animals (Kant, 1785/1902/1996; 1963). This stance had been challenged by several successive duty-based approaches. Regan (1983/2004) offers a duty-based approach to the moral status of animals. He argues that subjects-of-a-life should be treated respectfully and not harmed, which implies direct moral duties of moral agents. Garner (2013) states that at least some animals have an interest in not suffering, which implies that moral agents have duties towards them. Kaldewaij (2013) shows that even starting from the Kantian idea that similarities between rational actors lead to direct duties towards humans, direct duties of humans towards animals are defendable.
A third group of approaches is based on Aristotelian virtue ethics. Nussbaum (2007) argues that, just like humans, animals have a telos and should be allowed to exercise certain capabilities so that they can flourish. The core of Rollin’s (2006) approach is also the animal’s telos (Rollin, 2016:51), from which needs and desires flow. Not satisfying these needs and desires results in poor welfare, which should be avoided.
Several authors have taken other routes and reached similar conclusions, e.g. Cochrane (2013), Garner (2013), Donaldson and Kymlicka (2011), and Schmitz (2016). Humans should attribute sentient animals a moral status and consider their interests. The broad spectrum of ethical approaches offers many reasons to avoid harming sentient animals.
3. The Responsibility of Companies: animals as stakeholders
Companies have societal responsibilities, as has been argued thoroughly from the point of view of both business ethics (Isaacs, 2011; Kaptein & Wempe, 2002; Kolstad, 2017; Pettit, 2007) and CSR (Van Marrewijk, 2003, Visser, 2014). Within these companies, powerful people can, and should, take individual responsibility and use their power to initiate responsible collective corporate actions. Groups of these powerful individuals (boards, for example) are collective agents. But, Isaacs warns, fuzziness of roles and tasks can pose a challenge to the outcomes. These responsibilities have hardly been applied structurally to the interests of animals (Janssens & Kaptein, 2016; Van Liedekerke & Dubbink, 2008).
Stakeholder theory offers supporting arguments for corporate responsibilities towards animals, because it states that companies have an ethical responsibility to create value for stakeholders (Freeman et al. 2010, Freeman & Velamuri 2005). An accepted definition of a stakeholder is: any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives (Donaldson & Preston 1995, Freeman 2010). Animals differ from (other) stakeholders in two possibly relevant ways. The first difference that may be relevant is that they are non-human, but the definition is unclear about whether being human is a necessary feature of stakeholders. The definition does say, however, that it is about groups or individuals who can affect or are affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives, which can be the case for animals. The three animal ethics approaches I discussed above agree that sentient animals have interests. Therefore, there is undeniably something at stake for them. Therefore, they should be included in the stakeholder concept. This stance is supported by Hart and Sharma (2004), who argue in favour of including currently marginalised stakeholders like the poor, the weak, and the non-human, and by Mitchell et al. (1997), who classify animals as ‘dependent stakeholders’. This classification leads us to the second difference – that they cannot speak for themselves – which can easily be overcome by letting animal-protection NGOs speak for animals (Carroll, 1991), using scientific knowledge about their preferences (Janssens & Van Wesel 2018), observing their behaviour (Wemelsfelder et al. 2000) and putting an effort in communicating with them (Meijer 2017). Webster (2006) describes farm animals as stakeholders of farming, besides farmers and customers.
The conclusion should be that powerful people in companies bear an individual responsibility for the impact of their actions on the interests of animals. In addition, the company has an institutional responsibility. Both levels of responsibility may be attributive or substantial, based on CSR or stakeholder theory. It makes no decisive difference. From here on I will therefore speak of corporate responsibility, which can be fulfilled by actions of individuals within the company or of the company as an institution. Animals can be treated badly by companies (Engster, 2006; Fraser, 2008), or even be abused on a large scale (Braithwaite, 2010; Foer, 2009; Leder, 2012; Singer, 1975/2009).
4. Implications, Recommendations and Conclusions
I have argued that companies bear responsibilities towards sentient animals in the value chain, which oblige them to consider how to prevent inflicting harm on them, including killing, and to protect their welfare. A mind shift in companies is necessary to accept that sentient animals have interests that count ethically amongst other interests in and outside the company, and that they should be included in the stakeholder concept. Harming animals is ethically negative, and asks for thorough ethical accountability. It cannot be denied that the impact on animals of many industries is far from neutral and should be reconsidered and set against the societal necessity or value of the products and services produced.
Responsibilities can be limited by vagueness about what can be done, secondly by wrongful social practice combined with widespread ignorance, and thirdly by lack of power (Isaacs 2011). For most companies, operating in contexts of abundant information and shrinking global distances, the first two limiting factors will play a minor role. The third limitation, lack of power, can at least partly be solved by efforts to cooperate within industries and production chains (Janssens & Van Wesel 2018).
Aside from death, welfare problems in industrial farming are overwhelming. One could say that those who mistreat animals remove value from the value chain rather than add value. Measures for enhancing animal welfare will differ between groups of animals. Examples are: cage enrichment, more space, better housing, free-range options, social contacts, safer transport, and humane slaughter methods. Nevertheless, taking animal live will still be removing value. If companies would attribute the interests of animals a relatively heavy weight in their ethical assessments, the far-stretching ideal of a vegan society seems feasible in the future. To reach that point, companies could invest in the development of imitation meat and cultured meat, and promote vegetables, beans, nuts, and plant-based ‘dairy’. Economic, political, cultural, and other obstacles should not prevent companies from doing the right thing.
Inclusion in the expansion of sugarcane in Brazil: local perceptions
Andreia Camargo Marques Postal (Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands), Adamara Felicio, Lotte Asveld, J. Da Silveira
In Brazil the ethanol production cycle in the 2000s occurred within a context of intense market deregulation, international liquidity of capital and the emergence of environmental concerns that strengthened the clean and renewable energy markets. Large investments in co-generation projects, expansion of ethanol mills and new greenfield facilities took place within this environment. However, concerns have emerged regarding the social and environmental aspects of this crop and the expansion process for biofuel production, slowing down the transition to a biobased economy. Specifically, it was unclear whether the Brazilian expansion process achieved inclusive local development in which social aspects are a key goal.
Therefore, this article aims to verify the extent to which the Brazilian sugarcane expansion process achieved inclusiveness in order to form a complete understanding of biofuels impacts. For this analysis, we have focused on three aspects of the impacts: land concentration, working conditions and food conditions. Each of these impacts are analysed comparing local stakeholders’ perceptions (collected through field research) with secondary data from official databases.
The results show a change in the business model of crop acquisition that implies the inclusion of farmers into the sugarcane value chain, a positive impact on working conditions due to the formalisation of contracts and a positive impact on food access, one of the dimensions of food security. The conclusions highlight that the local community perceives inclusion as an outcome of this process represented by better living conditions in the municipalities where there was an expansion in sugarcane production, even when there was no specific process to reach inclusion in place.
Opportunities and challenges of farmers participating in food value chains: A phenomenological study from Southern Ontario
Monika Korzun (University of Guelph, Canada)
Southern Ontario in Canada has been experiencing an influx of values-based food supply chains or food value chains (FVCs) that focus on promoting local food. Many restaurants, butcher shops, food box programs and online meal kit delivery programs are promoting to source local food and have strong partnerships with local farmers. Food value chains are strategic alliances between producers and other supply-chain partners that deal with significant volumes of high-quality, differentiated food products, distribute rewards equitably across the chain and aim to advance social and environmental values (Stevenson and Pirog 2013). Mutual support and collaboration between partners are believed to be the core methods of maximizing the value of a product. Under the food value chain, all members of the chain, including farmers, are invested in ensuring the chain creates sustainable businesses along the way (Smith 2008; Stevenson and Pirog 2013). In value chains, farmers are considered essential to producing high quality food (Smith 2008; Thomas, Stevenson and Welsh 2008). FVCs provide an option to farmers who, for various reasons, do not participate in conventional marketing avenues or in direct marketing.
Although a wealth of research is available on FVCs, little research examines the opportunities and challenges of farmers participating in these partnerships. Literature on FVCs focus largely on three issues. The first body of literature focuses on defining various aspects of FVCs, such as the structure of FVCs, defining and distributing ‘value’ and distinguishing the FVC from conventional supply chains. The second body of literature outlines best practices of FVC operations. Farmers’ experiences and voices are largely missing in contribution. Finally, the economic benefits of FVCs including the benefits to farmers as well as to local economies, is also commonly found in literature. Research exploring the opinions of farmers about FVCs, independent from other actors in the partnership is largely lacking in literature. Several researchers have demonstrated the need for further research into value chain partnerships (Clancy and Lehrer 2010; Fearne, Martinez and Dent 2012; Stevenson et al. 2011). Stevenson et al. (2011) propose future research examines how partnerships in FVCs develop. Fearne, Martinez and Dent (2012) urge future researchers to focus on the nuances of value chain partnerships by examining power dynamics and the flow of information through the value chain.
This study examines the experiences of farmers in FVCs in Southern Ontario, Canada. The research focuses on farmers and the opportunities and challenges they face in FVCs. This research study involves thirty qualitative in-depth, open-ended, and semi-structured interviews with farmers participating in FVCs in Southern Ontario. This study utilizes the approach of phenomenology as its paradigm. Phenomenology is the study of lived experiences and it aims to uncover information about an experience from the perspective of the participant of that experience. The lived experience of farmers participating in FVCs contributes a unique perspective and can be used to gain insight into the concept of FVCs and local food systems.
The results of this study demonstrate that farmers participating in FVCs experience two major opportunities. First, when participating in FVCs, farmers can often rely on their partners to share or to undertake marketing of the product. This allows farmers more time to do what they do best – tend to their land and crops. Second, farmers have the opportunity to develop strong relationships with their partners. When this happens, farmers feel confident and secure that they will not be easily replaced and there is more leniency and flexibility around expectations, price negotiations and errors. The challenges include the role of scale in FVCs and the notion of how FVCs operate in practice. The role of scale is largely missing from literature on FVCs. Yet, farmers identify this as a significant aspect in FVCs. When the scale of a partner shifts, it often creates conflicts, inefficiencies and ultimately puts the partnership at risk. There is a difference between how FVC partnerships are outlined in literature and how they are experienced by farmers. Developing and maintaining partnerships appear to be a lot more complex and nuanced than literature suggests. Achieving a win-win scenario for all actors in FVCs involves taking risks, compromising which is often difficult to navigate for farmers. It is often challenging to determine whether a partnership truly embodies all the components of a FVCs.
This study generates valuable information about the opportunities and challenges of farmers participating in FVCs in Southern Ontario, Canada. Although the replicability and generalizability of the results are limited, it can nevertheless aid in providing practical information for those seeking to partake in FVCs. Further, this research demonstrates the value of incorporating lived experiences of farmers into scholarly literature on FVCs.
Organizing Inclusion in the Value Chain for Biofuel: Evaluating the Case of Planting Solaris Tobacco in South Africa
Eefje de Gelder & Lotte Asveld (Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands)
Agricultural projects in the bioeconomy often focus on the rather technical and/or economic aspects of these projects, with the social aspects of inclusion often being overlooked. Inclusion regards both outcomes and processes that take place within projects, with outcomes being an enhancement of the socioeconomic wellbeing of the producers at the bottom of the value chain. Processes within agricultural projects in the bioeconomy – especially those that are new and in a stage of development – require an active involvement of these producers, aiming at establishing those outcomes (e.g. Devaux et al. 2017). We argue that the involvement of the producers of the feedstock, i.e. the producer communities, is essential for projects to succeed, and from which both the involved producers and business will profit. On the academic level, the idea of inclusion indeed requires more scholarly attention, with the idea of inclusive business still having a “paradigmatic status” and its assumptions remaining “largely untested” (Pouw, Bush & Mangnus 2019; Heeks et al. 2014).
The success of inclusion of farmers works in three ways. First, if farmers are included, i.e. treated as equal partners, farmers will feel more involved in and dedicated to striving for the overall success of the process (REF). If the project is regarded as in line with their values, interests, and knowledge, farmers will feel more affiliation with the overall project and its goals (REF). Second, and consequently, farmers’ involvement in the project will be beneficial for the project to succeed in terms of a stable supply of high-quality crops (REF). The stability and quality of the agricultural supply will be highly beneficial for the project, and contribute to the overall long-term sustainability of the project. Third, in doing so these projects also include the typically most marginalized group of in the value chain and contributes to establishing economic justice in terms of (e.g. Bryden et al. 2017). At the same time, however, much is unknown about how practices of inclusion go hand in hand with the interests of stakeholders typically focused on profit-maximization.
In this research, we therefore study the following question:
How can biobased value chains be designed to secure sustainable supply of bioresources, improve agricultural management, and align farmers’ values, interests, knowledge, and concerns within the socio-economic and technical requirements of other partners in the value chain?
To unravel the way farmers’ interests and values can be integrated in an agricultural project in the bioeconomy, we perform interviews in South Africa, in a project in which farmers are involved to produce a tobacco plant. The producers, members of a specific tribe –the Royal Bafokeng Nation–, are involved to consider their interests and values with regard to this bioenergy project. Furthermore, we will do a questionnaire regarding their inclusion in the project. In these interviews, we will focus on the role of the Royal Bafokeng Nation members now a transition will take place towards the production of the nicotine-free tobacco plant, their moral frameworks, as well as the boundaries they face in this transition. In this case, we study a ‘small and medium scale’ project, in which high technology is available. Our research also draws lessons on how to improve the inclusion of farmers in our and similar projects.
NB: due to the COVID-19-crisis, we are unable to carry out the interviews in a pathway as envisioned. Currently, we are considering the opportunity to do the investigations by means of local people. In addition, we would like to include a notion of ‘resilience in COVID-19 times’ in our research.
Co-creating futures under uncertainty for second generation biofuel production: the case of Project Liberty
Zoë Robaey (Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands), Kinshuk M. Sinha, Lotte Asveld, Emiel Wubben and Patricia Osseweijer
The bioeconomy offers many possibilities but also many uncertainties, one of these being the alignment of stakeholders in complex value chains (Asveld, 2016). Possibilities to improve alignment between stakeholders in an existing value chain, and build on what is already there to invite thinking about future scenarios. In addition, the second generation lignocellulosic biofuel value chain is characterised by high uncertainty regarding climate change impacts on yields, markets, trade agreements, policies, and economic incentives. Future scenarios are a methodology to support transition management (Wiek et al. 2006) and help dealing with uncertainties (Loorbach and Rotmans, 2010).
Another concern are the diverse values, interests, concerns and knowledge of different actors in the value chain. For this, an exploration of these stakeholders was done in November 2018 with interviews and field observations (Researchers: Robaey, Sinha and Euken). Our case is Project Liberty, in Emmetsburg, Iowa, the largest second generation plant of cellulosic ethanol. We carried site visits and stakeholder interviews to find out what design elements should be part of co-creating future scenarios, these are organized in terms of values, and practices. Then, we organized a multi-stakeholder workshop, where four scenarios were created, with the goal of being inclusive of diverse stakeholders. We analyze these scenarios against a backdrop of political, climatic, and business uncertainties. This investigation leads us to identify tensions in the value chain, and establish what are the most important aspects for moving forward with cellulosic ethanol projects. We find that taking the right steps for inclusion helps managing uncertainties, but for this all stakeholders in the value chain need to be aligned.
Producer sustainability perspectives: conservation perennial grass, perennial bioenergy, and corn stover-harvesting producers and their values, geographic and temporal concerns
Veronika Vazhnik (Idaho National Laboratory, United States of America)
Agricultural producer priorities and values strongly influence the actions and decisions that they take. In the bioenergy context, if society’s sustainability goals require increasing bioenergy feedstock production, that will happen more rapidly if the planning and implementation of biomass supply holistically addresses producer needs and priorities. This paper discusses the priorities of stakeholders that are engaged in bioenergy crop production and considers their perspectives with respect to space and time. The goal of the study was to identify the priorities that can serve as the foundation for producer decision support on planting perennial grasses. A mixed-method approach of semi-structured interviews and quantitative priority elicitation was used to understand producer priorities. To include a broad array of perspectives, three producer groups were interviewed for this study: those that plant and harvest perennial biomass crops as part of bioenergy projects, those that harvest corn stover to supply bioenergy plants, and those that establish perennial crops for conservation purposes and are not currently marketing those crops for bioenergy.
Results demonstrated that several key priorities, including profitability, financial stability, and soil quality, were important across all the producer groups. Other priorities like preventing soil erosion and improving water quality were more important to the conservation and perennial biomass crop growing groups compared to the corn stover growing group. Although the responses suggest that the conservation and perennial biomass crop growing groups may be more concerned with longer-term outcomes, all the producers interviewed considered multiple spatial and temporal boundaries in their decision-making. This study provides insights as to the priorities that are particularly relevant to different producers that have planted perennial grasses or harvested biomass for bioenergy, including the spatial and temporal dimensions of indicator variables. This study can help inform which priorities can be measured and modeled to inform producer decisions about bioenergy crop production.
Use of the blockchain for food transparency in France and inclusion of agricultural producers
Ysé Commandré (University of Montpelier, France)
In 2006, in the US, health authorities took two weeks to identify the source of contamination of spinach sold in their territory. Ten years later, contamination occurred again on papaya (Ka- math, 2018). This time, health officials took three weeks to find the source of the contamination. The sale of these products was systematically suspended and sanitary analyses were delayed, all of which had a considerable impact on producers. This impact affected not only those producers whose production was contaminated, but also those whose production was healthy. The inability to quickly locate the source of the problem has resulted in significant economic dam- age to all spinach and papaya producers and a loss of consumer confidence (Kamath, 2018).
As of 2010, other food scandals occurred around the world. This context contributes to resurrect the spectre of past health crises such as the "mad cow" crisis. Thus, since 2016, in response to food and health crises that led to "scandals" (Labatut et al., 2016), the retail giant Walmart has been tackling the food safety of its supply chains using blockchain (BK) technology. This in- novation would be a solution to ensure better traceability and certify the verification of products before they are sold to consumers (Kamath, 2018). One of the stated objectives in the use of BK in the United States is to reduce the potential damage to agricultural producers in the event of a crisis. We have chosen to examine the implications of this technology for producers in France.
Through the prism of the actor network theory and Foucaultian power theory (Flyverbom, 2015), we ask ourselves to what extent the use of BK - as a new avatar of "food transparency" - is inclusive for agricultural producers?
These theories make it possible to understand the substitution of a first argument in favor of using the BK to fight food fraud by a new argument that of using the BK to preserve or find new outlets for agricultural products. With this new argument, this technology is also capable of producing new effects such as replacing trust with control.
After a first exploratory field of investigation with BK suppliers in France, we decided to continue with semi-directive interviews with several actors of the food industry from producer to distributor. We are looking for cases to be studied and analyzing the results through four pos- sible configurations for introducing BK into food chains. BK can be introduced at the initiative of distributors, food companies, agricultural cooperatives or producers themselves. We try to understand which configuration is the most inclusive for agricultural producers and to verify which are the modalities of inclusion of agricultural producers for each of the studied cases.
Among the configurations of introduction by agricultural producers, we were able to address the case of the brand Juste & Vendéen. This brand was created following demonstrations by dairy producers and the milk crisis that occurred in 2015 in France. The use of the BK is ac- companied here by the creation of a new sector. This initiative comes from a departmental federation of the FNSEA, the majority agricultural union in France. The aim is to develop out- lets in supermarkets on a local scale and that the other departmental federations of the FNSEA follow this example to create their own initiatives. The BK is used in this case to provide con- sumers with information about dairy farmers. These images accompany the objective of the Juste & Vendéen brand, which is to ensure a remunerative price for agricultural producers.
Another configuration of this type is that of the agricultural company Les Fermes Larrère. This company chose BK for its vegetable production in order to develop the products sold under its own brand and to ensure outlets with "private labels" such as the "Filières Responsables Auchan".
On the cooperative side, we observed a case of use of this technology by Terres du Sud. The use pursues the same objectives as for Les Fermes Larrère, that of developing outlets for prod- ucts sold under the "Delmond" own-brand name and maintaining outlets for products sold under the "Reflets de France", private label of the Carrefour group.
On the food company side, we were able to approach a hybrid configuration. The Nataïs company is both an agricultural production company such as Fermes Larrère and a company that buys corn for popcorn from other producers. This company took the decision to use BK to launch its brand of popcorn for the domestic and export markets. In addition to providing in- formation about the corn producer, their BK allows consumers to know the amount of CO2 absorbed by the corn before it is harvested.
On the retailer side, we were able to discuss the case of Carrefour, which has set itself the goal of "block chaining" all products sold under its private label "Les Filières Qualité Carrefour".
The first BK project emerged with the "Syndicat de Défense des volailles fermières d'Auvergne". This organization is one of the official signs of quality and origin whose production conditions are validated by the French State and controls carried out by State-approved bodies. This organization sells products under the brand name "Volailles Fermières d'Auvergne" and other brands including "Filières Qualité Carrefour". In order to develop its own brand "Volailles Fermières d'Auvergne" for export, the organization has developed a high traceability system using QR code which allows consumers to scan the product in order to access information on its place of production.The retailer Carrefour thus wished to add to this first initiative a BK for the products sold under its private label.
Through these four different cases, certain elements emerge. First of all, it would seem that this movement of "block chaining" is mainly led by retailers. Even if the introduction of the BK is led by an actor other than the distributor itself, it seems to be to his advantage and sometimes at his request, as confirmed by an interview with the FNSEA (the majority agricultural union in France). On the other hand, in some cases, such as Nataïs and Juste & Vendéen, this strategy does not appear to directly serve the distributors but rather the development of their own brand.
On another aspect, it would seem that in certain configurations the use of the BK requires producers to equip themselves more with digital tools. This is the case when the initiative is led by agricultural cooperatives or food companies that provide producers with digital equipment to provide information. In the case of the brand Juste & Vendéen or the syndicat des Volailles Fermières d'Auvergne, it would seem that the provision of technological capacity at the producer level is not necessary. Similarly, in the case of the other products of the "Filière Qualité Carrefour", the retailer has mainly encouraged the cooperatives not to provide more equipment to producers so as not to hinder "block chaining". Indeed, providing producers with new digital equipment could have required an adaptation time that the distributor was not ready to take. The agricultural producers then provide traceability information to their cooperatives whose management is totally delegated to them. This technology therefore requires traceability data provided by producers who rarely have control over the fate of this data, which is an obstacle to their inclusion in certain projects.
Moreover, whether or not additional equipment is required, it would seem that the ultimate goal in the long run is to automate the collection of agricultural data to be entered directly into the BK. This technology would therefore tend to replace producer confidence with control.
This work was supported by the French National Research Agency under the Investments for the Future Program, referred as ANR-16-CONV-0004.
Kamath, R. (2018). Food Traceability on Blockchain: Walmart’s Pork and Mango Pilots with IBM. The Journal of the British Blockchain Association, 1(1), 1-12.
Labatut, J., Munro, I., & Desmond, J. (2016). Animals and organizations. Organization, 23(3), 315-329.
Flyverbom, M. (2015). Sunlight in cyberspace? On transparency as a form of ordering. Euro- pean Journal of Social Theory, 18(2), 168-184.
Do Farmers Know Better? On-farm innovation and the hop-growing value chain
Matt Comi (University of Kansas, United States of America)
This social science research uses farmer-owned breeding programs of US Northwest hop growers as a case example to inquire about potential sustainable ways forward for other plant agricultures of scale. Particularly, I ask whether these farmer involvements in genetic and mechanical innovations produce more inclusive value chains in hop farming and what lessons this may have for other agricultures. Utilizing hybrid qualitative methods (interviews, field visits) I conducted an in-depth study with hop-growers (n=15) in Washington state, primarily in the Yakima Valley. Approximately 45 farms within this valley grow over thirty percent of the globe’s total hop production on (by average area and yield) the largest hop yards in the world. A selection of this small group of farmers are some of the only farmers of scale in the world who own or jointly own and operate breeding programs. These breeding programs are unique methods for producing and enhancing value in hop agriculture. Understanding farmers’ relationship with these breeding programs and the genetic technologies they co-produce provides insights into alternative places where agricultural plant research and innovation may be possible and the environmental, economic, and social impacts this plant-science practice could have on other agricultures of scale on a warming planet. Further, this research inquiries into the social arrangements that result by these unique means of producing value, and asks, who/what is included in hop breeding value chains? What exclusions remain? Responding to these questions provides holistic insights into how value chains and innovation can be paired to produce more sustainable and inclusive socio-economic arrangements in other agricultural assemblages.
While this project deals with a number of related questions, core to this inquiry, is the question about whether farmer-driven innovations actually increase inclusivity in the value chain. Do they involve a greater and more diverse selection of actors in the production of these innovations and do these innovations equitably share that value production within this agriculture? Consequently, I do not examine all levels of the hop growing value chain at length, but rather look at those processes which occur in or immediately near the geographical region of these farms. I look comparatively at the kinds of innovation and the value in such farming arrangement which do not employ these innovative methods. Conclusions drawn from this research reveal a complex array of findings outlined below as three key findings. Farmers driven innovation (1) profits local actors and ecosystems by being more inclusive a wide variety of human and material actors while (2) concentrating wealth in those farms and localities immediately involved in breeding innovations and (3) often continuing to exclude the long-marginalized group of farm laborers who work on the hop and fruit farms throughout the Yakima valley.
These three conclusions are expanded on farmer driven innovation and inclusive agricultural value chains below:
- Farmer-driven breeding programs have produced higher value ($/lb sales price) hops that have been integral to increasing farm profits and infrastructure reinvestment among co-owning and contract farms in the greater Yakima Valley region. Farmers who own breeding programs or who contract have greater input into the direction of further plant breeding and into the eventual marketing of these hops. They have greater agency and inclusivity in the innovation value chain.
- Farmer-driven breeding program show a tendency to concentrate profits by utilizing exclusionary practices to maximize value production in innovative practices. Like US input companies who utilize utility patents and plant variety protection act (PVPA) certificates to assert ownership over plant genetic resources, these breeding programs also ‘own’ their genetic lineages. While some organizations utilize these legal mechanisms as a way to prevent eventual financial abuse for open seed stock, these breeding programs use these protections to tightly control who owns and grows newly innovated varietals, and this excludes many smaller hop farmers and hop farmers outside of the region. Secondly, it creates inequality between those farmers with ownership stakes in breeding operations and those who contract to grow these new varietals.
- Hop farming, not unlike fruit picking and other operations in the Yakima valley are laborious practices utilizing a high number of hired, hourly workers. As a gross generalization, hop farms are known for providing better pay and working conditions than the many neighboring fruit growers. However, hop growing value chains and innovations at all levels tend to exclude these laborers from truly participating in innovation or from receiving equitable earnings from the innovation value chain. While reinvestment in on-farm infrastructure can benefit these workers with safer conditions and higher pay, this is often balanced (if not overbalanced) by farmers who reinvest profits to increase farm automation and therefore decrease their workforce.
Firm-farmer relationship in service delivery initiatives: navigating interdependences and inclusiveness in Ghana’s cocoa sector
Faustina Obeng Adomaa (Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands), Sietze Vellema, Maja Slingerland
In recent years, lead firms in the global cocoa value chain have integrated smallholder cocoa farmers into service delivery initiatives (SDIs) associated with sustainability and certification schemes. This integration has redefined the century-old firm-farmer relationship in the cocoa chain from a remote and largely overlooked one into a direct and pronounced relationship. In this redefined relationship, farmers rely on firms for support services to counter their production challenges while firms rely on farmers for cocoa beans to counter their strategic vulnerability emanating from inconsistent supply (Gereffi 2014). The firm-farmer relationship in SDIs is therefore, marked by interdependences. With renewed interest on inclusive development, inclusiveness of firm-farmer relationship in the cocoa chain has come to the limelight (see Ros-Tonen et al. 2019). However, the interdependency relationship forged between firms and farmers in SDIs risks being boxed in the dominant lens of power asymmetries in value chains and influence analysis of inclusiveness from the perspective of structural inequalities.
In this paper, we depart from the structural-focus literature and examine inclusiveness of SDIs from the lens of interdependences. We build on Thorpe’s (2018) call to examine critically the kinds of relationships fostered between firms and farmers in such initiatives. The firm-farmer relationship and its inclusiveness is not given, not self-evident nor conceptualised and analysed with sufficient precision. Thus, through abductive reasoning (Vellema et al., 2019; Awuzie & McDermott, 2017), we used different streams of literature to examine the relationship in an iterative cycle of data collection and analysis (Pawson & Tilly, 1997). We examined five SDIs in Ghana’s cocoa sector with diverse implementation modalities. We employed Vermeulen and Cotula’s (2010) dimensions of inclusiveness -ownership, voice, risk, and reward- to unpack and conceptualise the firm-farmer relationship. We anchored these dimensions in the literature on procedural and distributive fairness (Thorpe, 2018; Kroger & Schafer, 2014) to operationalise and examine their empirical manifestations in the SDIs.
We operationalised ownership in how ownership of services and cocoa beans is defined in the SDIs and examined arrangements that foster and strengthen joint-ownership between firms and farmers. We operationalised voice in how farmers interests and outlooks are integrated into decision-making in the SDIs and examined arrangements that ensure and strengthen farmers ability to voice complaints and complaints seriously acted on. We operationalised risks in how the risks of firms and farmers are countered in the SDIs and examined arrangements that provide the required resources/avenues to counter their respective operational risks. We operationalised rewards in how commensurable benefits are ensured for firms and farmers in the SDIs and examined arrangements for deriving and distributing benefits from the SDIs between firms and farmers.
Results from the study indicated that although firms consciously choose and define their models of service delivery, the firm-farmer relationship and its inclusiveness is consciously and unconsciously configured through daily implementation practices and arrangements around the four dimensions. The SDIs had different arrangements on the dimensions. Separate ownership or co-ownership of services and cocoa beans existed on the dimension of ownership. On the dimension of voice, ad hoc farmer organisations with less mutual decision-making, cooperatives with patron-client decision-making or cooperatives with mutual decision-making existed in the SDIs. Diverse and fluid arrangements existed on the dimension of risk as firms and farmers continue to hunt around for avenues to counter their operational risks while shared financing or non-shared financing of service delivery with part of premiums existed on the dimension of reward.
The firm-farmer relationship in SDIs is a multidimensional interdependency relationship and manifests itself in the four dimensions. However, although all the dimensions are important, the risk dimension is decisive. Insights from the SDIs show that interdependences in the relationship converge around firms need for stable supply of beans and farmers need for services, especially pesticides on credit. This defines an interdependency relationship in which firms delivery of pesticides to farmers on credit is matched with farmers delivery of beans to firms, part of which goes toward the payment of credited inputs. Generally however, credit input delivery and recouping of payments through the supply of cocoa beans is a risky scheme in Ghana’s cocoa sector. Thus, firms continue to hunt around for efficient ways to respond to farmers’ input needs. In return, farmers also hunt around to supply their beans to firms who respond to farmers’ input needs. The evolving arrangements or lack thereof on credit input delivery in the SDIs is therefore, decisive for defining the interdependent firm-farm relationship and the terms of inclusion.
While the risk dimension is decisive, the apparent absence of favourable arrangements on risk influences the prioritisation of reward by firms and farmers. Firms compete to provide higher premiums and non-cash packages to incentivise farmers. Farmers respond to such incentives in their supply decisions. However, farmers continue to advocate for the integration of favourable arrangements on credit input schemes in the SDIs as well as strive to participate in deciding how premiums are distributed. They consider mutual decision-making on these as essential. The dimension of voice is therefore, emerging as important in constructing inclusiveness in the SDIs. The interdependent firm-farm relationship and its inclusiveness therefore, remains a configuration of all four dimensions as the dimensions influence and are influenced by one another. The relationship and its inclusiveness is also not static; it evolves as arrangements surrounding risk the decisive, reward the prioritised and voice the emerging important continue to evolve. Additionally, the relationship and its inclusiveness is highly contingent and enacted within the specific institutional context of Ghana’s cocoa sector.
Analysing the firm-farmer relationship in these dimensions helps to unpack and examine the multidimensional interdependency that exists between firms and farmers and how arrangements around the dimensions define inclusiveness. This way of looking at firm-farmer relationship opens up space from an organisational fix linked to the structural-focus literature to an interest in how to navigate and shape the interdependency relationship negotiated and enacted in specific dimensions, spaces and institutional contexts and its manifestations on inclusiveness in practice (Chamberlain & Anseeuw, 2018) as a development objective.
“A spark can cause a huge fire”: Lessons learned and resources to share from a justice-oriented, youth-centered community seafood program
Talia Young (Haverford College, United States of America), Gabriel Cumming, Kristin Hunter-Thomson
Much of the work on agricultural value chains has focused on terrestrial agriculture. In this paper, we focus on an inclusive seafood value chain (Fishadelphia) connecting small-scale seafood harvesters and aquaculture farmers from New Jersey, USA with culturally and economically diverse customers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The program is based at two secondary schools, and the day-to-day operations of the program are coordinated by high school students from predominantly low-income communities of color. We will present insights gained from building a justice-driven organization that from the start has sought to broaden inclusion and participation in the seafood supply chain.
Our research interrogates the concept of inclusion by comparing how members of three stakeholder groups - customers, students, and seafood suppliers - conceptualize the value chain, derive value from it, and perceive roles (their own and others’) within it. Using a variety of mixed methods (including interviews, surveys, and network analysis), we explore how inclusion can be perceived and experienced differently by stakeholders whose positions within value chains differ. We will also demonstrate how the establishment of an inclusive value chain has helped to establish networks that extend beyond the transaction of fish and that are resilient in the face of societal disruptions. We will share our lessons learned, processes, and resources, in the hopes of creating a conversation with others in seafood or terrestrial agricultural contexts.
Natures in tension through the adoption of agro-industrial biological control in Western Almeria: A top-down technology or a way of knowing?
Paloma Yáñez Serrano (University of Manchester, United Kingdom)
Part of the literature on the regional crisis of family farming and technical scientific studies on the adaptability to sustainable forms of production, come together in assigning agronomist the role of mediators between the farmers and the productive environment, artificially removing farmers from their historical capacity to manage and balance their crops.
Developing on the ethnography with the families described above and their encounters with agronomists and regional scientific institutes, in this article I go deeper into the local workers resistances through their adaptation to agroecology and nature-based solutions as a production technology. Taking the ‘revolution’ of biological control in Western Almeria as an example, it focuses on the current farmer-scientists debates regarding the decrease of biological control in tomato production due to the difficult stabilization of its auxiliary fauna population. It confronts the commonly established local scientists’ view that farmers cultural practices and their negligence controlling the auxiliary fauna population are the reasons why biological control adoption is not widespread, reflecting a cultural barrier between agroecology and intensive production. Drawing on my ethnographic experience, I argue against local scientists determinism, showing how temporal constrains of increasing economic risks and practical difficulties of managing biological control experienced by farmers, have led to a downfall in adoption and to the discredit of scientific advice over community knowledge.
I also explore the few regional farms producing using agroecological practices that reaffirm a relationship of mutual dependency between nature-based solutions to production and sustainable agriculture. Their empirical experience demonstrates how interspecies relations can be renegotiated in the greenhouse, from the current forms of industrial domestication to a balanced collaboration between man and nature that generates respect for the natural cycles and its rhythms. I argue this form of constructive resistance reveals the complex possibilities of a conscious collaboration with the natural environment, while exposing the threats of simply using nature as a technology, showing the weakness of an intensive mode of production unable to overcome existing natural imbalances in the adoption of biological control.
Although this frame seems to reject the possibility of consciously collaborating with nature in a generative way within the industrial environment, I argue that the key lies in privileging forms of engagement with nature-based solutions that create of sensible forms of sustainable production shown through experiential evidence, rather than presenting a concrete protocol strategy for scalable industrial uptake.
Inclusion in agricultural value chains, revisiting its need and desirability for opening up
Barbara van Mierlo (Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands), PJ Beers, Anne-Charlotte Hoes
In both policy and scientific literature, inclusion or inclusiveness is considered to be crucial for fair, democratic and sustainable processes of societal innovation and change. In practice, this means that participatory, tailor-made techniques for public dialogues are used to include the public, NGOs and other stakeholders that are usually absent from science, development and innovation, with the aim to open up the change process. The subject of the deliberations in among others consensus conferences, multi-stakeholder partnerships, innovation platforms and other structured forms of participation, not only concerns the anticipated potentially negative societal impacts of technical and other innovations, but also the motivations for and goals of their development (Stirling 2008, Stilgoe, Owen, and Macnaghten 2013).
Generally, the expected outcome of the involvement of actors as a feature of a responsible innovation process is framed as an opening up of the research, innovation and development process with regard to issues that contest dominant assumptions, values and interests. This outcome subsequently informs science and innovation policy specifically and/or the innovation process in general. This perspective on responsible innovation is problematic for several reasons. First, the assumption about the positive relation between inclusion of actors and opening up has been debated. Public participation by invitation in workshops and similar settings does not necessarily help to challenge assumptions underlying scientific choices and normative issues (Wynne 2007). It is also doubted whether participatory approaches, such as forms of public appraisal or stakeholder involvement, are the only way to facilitate opening up. They are not by definition more effective than traditional expert analyses (Stirling 2008, van Mierlo et al. 2012).
Secondly, the assumption of opening up being the desirable outcome of a responsible innovation process, can be questioned. According to several scholars both opening up and closing down are needed to direct change processes towards socially desirable ends. As opening up is basically a widening of the problem, the solutions space and/or the governance system, closing down can be understood as reducing complexity and ambivalence. In light of these criticisms, the key challenge for responsible innovation can be reformulated as identifying ways to combine and balance processes of opening up and closing down (Voss, Bauknecht, and Kemp 2006). The aim of this article is to investigate empirically in what situations and how actors identify such combinations and whether opening up and closing down are indeed balanced since thus far few people have taken up this challenge (Regeer 2009, Westling et al. 2014).
The Dutch food production system characterised by industrialisation and high export volumes, encountered severe problems of emissions to air, and surface and ground water, soil quality, concerns about animal welfare, and more recently its contribution to climate change. These and other issues have been reason for the agricultural sub-sectors to strive for sustainable innovation. Currently, there is a trend of private companies and entrepreneurs taking the lead in endeavours to align the developments in the sector with the concerns of citizens and consumers while ensuring economic viability for the sector. In this article, we analyse two case studies in the agricultural sector, for instigating a wider debate on the need of opening up and its relation with inclusion of actors. We do so by investigating how groups of companies that want to take societal responsibility in a co-evolutionary innovation process, shape and reshape problem definitions and solutions. This is done from a framing perspective that enlightens how issues are defined and acquire meaning in conversations.
The two case accounts at the core of the study are initiatives for sustainable development. In these initiatives, entrepreneurs and companies collaborate with other actors and strive for structural change in agro-food chains in order to guarantee their own future by taking societal concerns into account. The first is the programme Sustainable Dairy Chain (in Dutch: ‘Duurzame Zuivelketen’). Dairy processing companies, represented by NZO (the Dutch Dairy Association) and the farmers’ organisation LTO Nederland, have initiated and participate in the programme ‘Sustainable Dairy Chain’. The second initiative is Market-Driven Greenhouse Sector (in Dutch: ‘STAP, STichting versterking Afzetpositie Producenten van glasgroenten in Nederland), initiated and supported by greenhouse growers. Both cases involve a coalition of companies and entrepreneurs, suggesting a minimum of inclusion of actors. However, they differ in composition and strategy. The Sustainable Dairy Chain is composed mainly of representative bodies and has a form of organised inclusion in the form of an advisory body. The Market-Driven Greenhouse Sector initiative consists of individual growers, that is, small and medium-sized enterprises. In that regard, the two cases are both representative for responsible innovation by entrepreneurs, but also offer diversity with regard to opening up. By scrutinizing the assumed relation between actor involvement (inclusion) and the opening up of issue frames, we shed new light on the importance and the role of inclusion in responsible innovation, and, in doing so, on the relation between opening up and closing down, while contributing to the wider discussion about the latter.
The two cases show that inclusion of new actors can have many forms: discussing options for collaborative action, advising, organising a symposium and informal communication with all kinds of relevant actors as well as negotiation processes behind the scenes. This reflects the suggestion of De Hoop, Pols, and Romijn (2016) to investigate how people become involved in and modify an innovation process. We found that the inclusion of new actors is not the panacea for opening up the innovation process in initiatives of private partners. First of all, inclusion may also follow upon opening up instead of the other way around, as we saw in the first reframing in the STAP case. In this case, we even observed the opposite, when in the second reframing inclusion had a paralysing effect.
Secondly, not inclusion, but responsiveness to external developments such as changing governmental priorities seemed to be the key trigger for opening up in both industry-led cases. Opening up hence clearly is not necessarily the result of including new voices in dialogues and deliberations. This is in line with long-standing criticisms to the high expectations of formally organised public dialogues in many different (national) contexts (Wynne 2007, Cooke and Kothari 2001).
The results suggest that the inclusion of actors is not the panacea for opening up the innovation processes, given that responsiveness seemed more relevant. Furthermore, we confirm that closing down may occur simultaneously with opening up and as such is an inherent part of responsible innovation processes. Hence, in addition to the advocated opening up, the question of how to balance it with closing down in order to arrive at collaborative action deserves full attention.
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