Understanding better who benefits from Inclusive Business Models for food Security

The midterm meeting of the GCP2 projects

23 January 2018

“Inclusive Business Models offer opportunities for economic and social development for certain groups, but they are not effective as mean to poverty alleviation”. A finding presented by Guus van Westen, coordinator of the Follow the Food project, one of the nine projects funded within the second call of the Global Challenges Programme (GCP). A focus area of this call was Inclusive Business Models for food and nutrition security. The six Integrated Projects went through the internal self-assessment stage as part of the midterm review.

Discussion at the GCP2 meeting 2018

As conclusion of the midterm review a joint meeting was held in Nairobi in which Southern and Northern consortium partners came together. The other three projects – Fast Track Research projects - have a shorter duration and are nearing their end dates. These partners also joined in the midterm meeting, for the similar purpose of exchange and learning. Please read the FULL REPORT on the meeting.

Interim findings of the GCP2 projects

The joint midterm workshop served a twofold objective: i. Joint learning, and ii. Assessment of progress/accountability. For the sake of the joint learning all projects presented their (interim) findings. The LIQUID project identified the impact of risk on cash flows of three categories of farmers (men, women and youth) in two types of dairy chains (formal and informal). Youths in the informal value chain and men in both values chains face relatively high risk. Important sources of risk are fluctuations in quantity of feed, price of feed and average daily yield. Milk production in the informal value chain is substantially riskier than in the formal chain. Within the ILIPA project  great interest has been found with farmers for the rearing of black soldier flies as feed through awareness campaigns. The insects are strongly benefiting the farmers as they no longer depend on cost-intensive feed for their fish, pigs or poultry. Rather, they can now produce their own feed by rearing the insects on manure and farm waste, a method that is developed by the consortium, which as a co-benefit provides for nutrient-rich composting. The Women Food Entrepreneurs project found, surprisingly, that soil quality in urban slums in Ouagadougou and Kisumu is higher than assumed. Also, gender specific obstacles and constraints faced by Women Food Entrepreneur groups were found in both study sites. Sometimes, these obstacles and constraints are ‘external’ (poverty conditions, lack of space, resources, secured access to land, farm inputs, potable water, mobility and access to markets, time and financial and physical capital) and ‘internal’ to the Women Food Entrepreneurs groups: unequal relationships within groups preventing women to actively participate in decision making and putting their priorities on the agenda. The ALEGAMS project (Fast Track Research) has seen an overhaul of the Role Playing Game they are developing in a learning process with shrimp farmers for risk assessment in Integrated Farming systems in Vietnam. The farmers signalled that the game needed to include assessment of uptake of new technologies, which has now been included in the game. Other projects also showed tremendous progress and presented findings that were food for discussion. Through an interactive meeting there was lively exchange on a wide range of themes, such as direct and indirect pathways to food security, risk-sharing and the role of technology within inclusive business development.

Best practices and challenges on co-creation

The consortia also exchanged on challenges and best practices within their projects, which ranged from issues within market development, achieving sustainable results or the co-creation processes with academic and other partners. On the latter, co-creation, it was concluded that meaningful engagement and communication from the early start and continuously throughout project execution is a prerequisite  for making optimal use of the skills of the various partners on board and for achieving outcomes. Also, sharing of intermediate findings (through working documents, actor and contextual inventories, market analyses, etc.) and engagement of MSc students can mitigate issues of varying timelines of partners. Further it was considered that knowledge on the value and conduct of academic research of other partners sometimes needed to be enhanced before and at the start of the project. It was generally considered that co-creation has added value to research and potentially raises opportunities for uptake.  An outstanding example of this is the AQUAPONICS project, one of the Fast Track projects that is at its end date. In the project the conditions for aquaponics (integrated fish-vegetable production) systems to function effectively as business models have been found. Different systems were studied: those held in backyards and those held in large communal systems. For the first system, suppliers of necessary feed have been found and the systems seem to be sustainable. For the larger systems solutions for sustainability have not yet been found. However, the findings of the project have already led to translation of the systems to the Kenyan context by the private partner. And even beyond the region outscaling is taking place: hydroponics (vegetable production) systems are being built in Somaliland and the Palestinian Territories, building on the findings of the GCP AQUAPONICS project.

Exchange on (the development of) Inclusive Business Models

The central theme of the midterm meeting was Inclusive Business Models (IBMs). Conversations were had amongst consortia on cross-cutting themes, such as variations beyond traditional business models: bottom up approach versus company led inclusivity. This led to the conclusion that there are different interests of actors for initiating IBMs, leading to a variation in models. The following characteristics were identified for IBMs: 1. Vertical integration, 2. Horizontal integration, 3. Hybrid integration (actors with equal decision-making control). In the development of any IBM both inclusivity and exclusivity need be uncovered. Intermediaries play a role and further increase the diversity of IBMs. Another issue discussed was risk sharing – different risk in different dimensions (including exclusion and/or adverse incorporation). It was agreed that there is need to recognise different forms of risk – financial, production process, market, social. There are two dimensions of risk sharing: vertical, along the value chain, and horizontal, between farmers. The role of private actors/governance models is key for encouraging development of risk sharing strategies. A question is whether/what type of role there is for government. Can they play a role in reducing price risk, environmental risk related to shared resources, or upgrading skills to reduce production risks. Discussions were also had on the themes ‘durability/viability of models over long term – the transition from subsidy to market’, ‘information sharing – within value chain and with extra-transactional actors’, ‘defining the role of the public sector in IBMs – legislation, norms, support’ and the ‘the role of technology in affecting inclusiveness’. As there is such a great amount of angles to approaching the issue, and the projects have quite a lot to offer in terms of knowledge already, it was agreed that the consortia will join forces and that a special issue will be developed. This opportunity will also be opened to other GCP (as well as Applied Research Fund) projects working on IBMs.

Presentation at the GCP2 meeting 2018

After an internal exchange amongst consortia a public afternoon was held, which included some 45 stakeholders from research, private sector, government and NGO working on IBMs. The report of this public meeting can be found on the website of the F&BKP soon.

Food & Business Research

The Food & Business Global Challenges Programme (GCP) and the Applied Research Fund (ARF) are subsidy schemes of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFa), implemented by NWO-WOTRO Science for Global development. The Food & Business Knowledge Platform is an initiative of MoFa. For more information on the GCP and ARF projects see the Food & Business Knowledge Platform website and the Food & Business Research website.

Relevant links

Source: NWO